Dennis Burton (1933 – 2013): An Exhibition Commemorating his Six Decade Long Career
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 5th, 2013, 2pm – 6pm with remarks at 4pm
Exhibition runs until: October 30th, 2013
Christopher Cutts Gallery, 21 Morrow Avenue, Toronto, ON
On July 8, 2013, Canada lost an important Canadian artist: Dennis Burton. Painter, educator, musician, wordsmith, Burton, played an integral role in a very exciting period of Canadian cultural history.
Born in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1933, Dennis won a scholarship to Pickering College, later attending OCA, (now OCAD University). Artists, Fred Hagan and Jock Macdonald were strong influences. He graduated with honours in 1956, and later studied with Rico Lebrun at the University of Southern California (1955), and Ben Shahn at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (1959).
Burton exhibited with The Isaacs Gallery, Toronto’s center of Avant-garde art and activity, since it’s beginnings in the late 1950’s. Artists and close friends Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Graham Coughtry, Nobuo Kubota, Gordon Rayner, Robert Markle, Richard Gorman, as well as John MacGregor,Robert Hedrick, William Ronald, John Meredith and Jack Chambers were all part of the Isaacs stable. Dennis Burton’s artistic practice was expansive nevertheless in the 1960’s Burton began to extol the female form as he painted a series of figurative paintings of women in undergarments. Many consider the “garter belt” paintings Dennis Burton’s most iconic body of work. This is largely due to the brouhaha around an important exhibition of the paintings when, former PM John Diefenbaker denounced the work in the House of Commons coining the term “garterbeltmania”. In 1965 Burton founded the New School of Art Toronto’s first alternative post-secondary art school. In 1970 – 71 he taught and was chair of the fine art department at Ontario College of Art. In 1977, Burton, along with other colleagues, founded Art’s Sake Inc, The Institute for Visual Art, the first Independent alternative totally artist run post secondary art school. In 1979 Burton joined the faculty of Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver and taught there for 20 years, until his retirement.
Dennis Burton possessed a prodigious technical facility as well as an intellectual rigor, rare and enviable qualities. However it is that particular condition which gave rise to Burton’s on going pursuit of both artistic and intellectual excellence. The works on exhibit whether, Diagram Portrait Reflection of Myself or Any Man as a Finite Universe, 1961 or the Robert Motherwell inspired painting Father Dead, Mother Well, 1975, to name but two works, are emblematic of Burton’s remarkable legacy.
Burton’s work is represented in many important public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, Vancouver Art gallery, Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge, The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, The Robert Mclaughlin Gallery in Oshawa.