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Graham Coughtry (1931-1999) is best known for his lush paintings of the abstracted human figure. Painting in both Toronto and Ibizia, Spain, Coughtry became a well known member of the “Isaacs Group” of artists, a group of Toronto post-war artists who exhibited with the legendary dealer Av Isaacs.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Coughtry began painting portraits that were intended to create a presence or reality of the sitter. Influenced by his trips to Europe and the work of Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon, he liked the attitude of the figure in space and the space created between you and the figure.
This portrait, thought to be one of his only self portraits, is a visceral depiction of himself. The painting reveals his mastery of paint, powerful impasto and rich understanding of colour. At the same time as this self portrait, Coughtry was painting his famous “Two Figure Series” paintings and completing a major mural project at the Toronto airport.
From October 1963–October 1965, “Self Portrait” was included in Fifteen Canadian Artists, an exhibition of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and organized by the Canadian Advisory Committee with the assistance of the Canada Council.
After MoMA, the exhibition toured ten additional American cities including:
Hunter Gallery of Art, October 6–November 3,1963,Chattanooga, Tennessee;
The Currier Gallery of Art, November 19–December17, 1963, Manchester, New Hampshire;
Phillips Exeter Academy, January 7–February 4, 1964, Exeter, New Hampshire;
University of Texas, March 1–29,1964, Austin;
Washington Gallery of Modern Art, July 25–September 7, 1964, Washington, D.C.;
Mercer University, September 20–October 18, 1964, Macon, Georgia;
Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, November 5–30, 1964;
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, March 8–April 5, 1965;
San Francisco Museum of Art, June 7–July 5, 1965;
City Art Museum Saint Louis, September 5 – October 4, 1965
Self Portrait, Oil on Canvas, 1963, 50 3/4 x 39 1/4 in.