“Reclining No. 2” by Graham Coughtry

By: Greg Humeniuk

Lot 23 – Graham Coughtry (1931-1999), RECLINING NO. 2, 1959. Oil and Lucite 44 on canvas; signed lower right; signed, dated “March, 1959,” and titled verso. 48.25 x 54 in — 122.6 x 137.2 cm. Estimate $8,000-$12,000

Newly graduated from the Ontario College of Art and with a T. Eaton travel scholarship in hand, Graham Coughtry travelled to Europe in 1954 and 1955. It was in France where he studied the work of Post-Impressionist artist Pierre Bonnard, and was deeply influenced by the interplay of colour and light. Soon after returning to Canada, Coughtry had his first exhibition at Hart House, University of Toronto, with art school classmate Michael Snow.

Reclining No. 2, 1959, was painted one month after the closing of Graham Coughtry’s second solo exhibition at the Greenwich Gallery in Toronto which featured the related work, Reclining. Part of the original group of artists to be represented by Avrom Isaacs, Coughtry, along with Michael Snow, encouraged Isaacs to open the Greenwich Gallery (later the Isaacs Gallery). Coughtry quickly caught the eye of critics and collectors, including Joseph H. Hirshhorn, who purchased five paintings from this solo exhibition. Interest in his work exploded – by 1960, Coughtry was one of a cohort of young, talented artists selected to represent Canada at the 1959 Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil and the 1960 Venice Biennale, and his work had entered numerous public collections such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Art critic Robert Fulford described Coughtry’s early work as “sensuous, thickly painted studies of interior spaces” and “glowing semi-abstract paintings that showed one or two figures floating, unmoored, in space.”[1] Reclining No. 2 radiates from its fiery red centre with interspersed patches of purple, blue and yellow on a pink and orange ground. If a figure is there, it is imperceivable. Coughtry’s main interest here is the vibrancy and fusion of colour through his brushstrokes.

About the auction

Held online from May 24-29, 2024, our spring auction of Canadian and International Fine Art brings together exceptional work from around the world. This auction features celebrated Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, P.C. Sheppard, A.J. Casson, Bertram Booker, Alexandra Luke, Jean Paul Lemieux and Yves Gaucher as well as important First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau, Roy Thomas and Alex Janvier. International highlights include work by Jules Olitski, Karel Appel, Kwon Young-Woo, Norman Bluhm, Józef Bakoś, Léon Lhermitte and Montague Dawson.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

 Thursday, May 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Friday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Saturday, May 25 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Sunday, May 26 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Monday, May 27 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, May 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

Please contact us to find out more.


[1] Robert Fulford, “Painter staked out the cutting edge with abstract work,” The Globe and Mail, 16 Jan 1999, C15.

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