Tom Dean

Tom Dean’s work eludes categories. He has made paintings, videos and multiples, but is best known for his sculpture. His art plays upon the tensions between ordinary and mythical, with works varying in scale from miniature to monumental, their subject matter ranging from familiar, everyday objects to classical icons. His epic subjects allude to the dream world of the psyche and matters of the soul, but always reside in the intensely material world of desire and the body.

Dean was recognized in 1999 with the honour of being chosen as the Canadian representative at the 1999 Venice Biennale. A catalogue accompanied Dean’s Venice Biennale exhibition.

Tom Dean was born in Markdale, Ontario (1947) and settled in Montréal in the late 1960s, where he studied visual art at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) and became a well-known figure in the city’s alternative scene. He was a founding member of Véhicule Art Inc (and Véhicule Press), a renowned centre of avant-garde activity at the time. From 1972 to 1974 Dean published Beaux Arts magazine with fellow artist Stephen Lack. Over the next decade he produced works in several media, including texts, video, sculpture and prints, and gained a reputation for his elaborate multidisciplinary performances.

In 1976 Tom Dean moved to Toronto and shortly thereafter began his monumental sculpture project, The Floating Staircase (1978-81), whose remains were resurrected in an installation at Mercer Union, Toronto (1983). The various sections of Dean's extended serial sculpture Excerpts from a Description of the Universe (1984-88) were widely exhibited through the latter half of the 1980s, including in Aurora Borealis at the Centre international d'art contemporain, Montrél (1985) and in a solo exhibition at the 49th Parallel Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, New York (1985). In 1988 his work was included in the group exhibition All That Matters, which travelled across the country. From 1986 to 1989 Dean lived in New York, participating in exhibitions there as well as in Canada, including in 1990 an exhibition of his drawings and sculptures at the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, Queen's University, Kingston (with catalogue).

Throughout the 1990s his artworks have been presented in several important group and solo exhibitions in Canada and Europe. A selection of his works from the early 1980s to the present were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (Tom Dean: Selected Works Past and Present, 1999).

He has been collected by such major institutions as the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Musée des beaux arts de Montréal.

Solo Exhibitions
  • Mercy, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto
  • Tom Dean: Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Day Gallery, Toronto
  • Tom Dean: Aspiration and Entropy, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Toronto
  • Ruins of the Floating Staircase, University of Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Tom Dean: The Ten Commandments, Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art, Calgary
  • Desire, Toronto Sculpture Garden, Toronto
  • Retrospective, Edward Day Gallery, Toronto
  • The Whole Catastrophe, Niagara Artists’ Company, St. Catharines
  • Tom Dean: Culture’s Fool, Rodman Hall Arts Centre, St. Catharines
  • Tom Dean, Edward Day Gallery, Toronto
  • Wonderbalcony, The Balcony, Toronto
  • The Whole Catastrophe, XLVIII Biennale di Venezia, Venice
  • Tom Dean: Selected Works Past and Present, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Excerpts…etc,, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
  • Excerpts…etc,, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Feeling Good About Myself, (with Matthias Herrmann), Art Metropole, Toronto
  • Sculpture, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • New Scultpture, Leonard & Bina Art Gallery, Montreal
  • Tom Dean/Richard Banks, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • New Scultpture, (touring) UBC Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver; Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge; The Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina; The Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary
  • Cheap Prints, Galerie Graff, Montrea
  • New Work, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • New Work, Cold City Gallery, Toronto
  • New Sculpture, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto
  • Cheap Prints, Open Studio, Toronto
  • New Work, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • Hell and Money, Cold City Gallery, Toronto
  • Sculpture, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston
  • Excerpts…3, Oakville Gallery, Oakville
  • Sculpture, Cold City Gallery, Toronto
  • Excerpts from a Description of the Universe 3, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • Sculpture, Cold City Gallery, Toronto
  • Excerpts from a Description of the Universe 1, 2, 3, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff
  • Excerpts from a Description of the Universe 2, Galerie René Blouin, Montreal
  • Excerpts from a Description of the Universe 2, Artculture Resource Center, Toronto
  • Excerpts from a Description of the Universe, 49th Parallel, New York
  • Kingdom of Passage, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Trent University, Peterborough
  • Ruins of the Floating Staircase, Mercer Union, Toronto
  • Affected Thunder, A Space Gallery, Toronto
  • Paintings, Gallery Quan, Toronto
  • The Floating Staircase, Kingston Artists’ Association Inc
  • Z, Véhicule Art Inc., Montreal
  • New Work, (with Robin Collyer), Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto
  • Installations, Véhicule Art Inc., Montreal
Group Exhibitions
  • Word Play, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto
  • Editions, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto
  • Traffic: Conceptual Art In Canada 1965-1980, Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto
  • OPEN SPACES, 3rd Vancouver International Sculpture Project, Vancouver British Columbia
  • The Flux of Fluid, Edward Day Gallery, TO
  • The Kiwi Sculpture Garden Project, Kiwi Gardens, Perth, Ontario
  • The Kiwi Sculpture Garden Project, Kiwi Gardens, Perth,Ontario
  • XXX Testimonial, Mercer Union, Toronto
  • Animal de Compagnie, Galerie Art Mur, Montreal
  • The Very Thing, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax
  • Fashion Queen, Spin Gallery, Toronto
  • Oh Baby, Cambridge Galleries, Cambridge
  • The Drug Show, Toronto
  • Karaoke, Toronto
  • Cross Eyed, Toronto
  • The Sex Show, Toronto
  • Cold City Tenth Anniversary, Cold City Gallery, Toronto
  • Heavy Mental, The Power Plant, Toronto
  • Nether Mind, Toronto
  • Milieu: of the order of presentation, S.L. Simpson Gallery, Toronto
  • Boyer/Dean/Gomes, Cold City Gallery
  • On the Surface of Things, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto
  • Corpus Part II, Oakville Gallery, Oakville
  • The Cabinet Project, The Power Plant, Toronto
  • De Causus et Tractatibus, AxeNéo-7, Hull
  • Imprimatur, Galerie de L’UQAM, Montreal
  • Corpus Part II, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff
  • Nether Mind, Toronto
  • Representing Media, Genereux Grunwald Gallery, Toronto
  • Canada Une Nouvelle Génération, Musée des Beaux Arts/FRAC Franche-Comté, France
  • Nether Mind, Toronto
  • Identity, Main/Access, Winnipeg
  • Anni Novanta, Galleria Communale D’Arte Moderna, Bologna
  • Union Language, Mercer Union, Toronto
  • Nether Mind, Toronto
  • The Wedding, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto
  • Artists’ Books, Art Gallery of Hamilton
  • Body is a Loaded Word, Evelyn Amis Gallery, Toronto
  • Sculpture, Laurie Rubin Gallery, New York
  • Microsculpture, University of Rhode Island, Fine Arts Centre
  • Prisoners of Art, The Police Building, New York
  • Scrutiny, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Toronto
  • The Anti-Graceful, S.L. Simpson Gallery, Toronto
  • City Artists, Or Gallery, Vancouver
  • All That Matters, (touring) Windsor Art Gallery, Windsor; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal
  • David and Goliath, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • Invitational, John Weber Gallery, New York
  • From Sea to Shining Sea, The Power Plant, Toronto
  • Aurora Borealis, Centre Internationale d’Art Contemporain
  • Chromaliving, The Colonnade, Toronto
  • not waving, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
  • Nine Toronto Artists, Hallwalls, Buffalo
  • Young Contemporaries ’76, London Art Gallery, London
  • 17 Canadian Artists: A Protean View, Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Chairs, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Périphéries, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal
  • Camerart, Galerie Optica, Montreal
  • 9 out of 10, Art Gallery of Hamilton
  • Montréal: Plus ou Moins, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Création Québec, Montreal, Amsterdam, Brussels
  • 45ï‚°30’N - 73ï‚°36’W, Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal
  • 71st Annual Exhibition of Canadian Art, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Charlottetown Centennial Art Centre, PEI
  • Pluriel ’71, Musée de Québec, Quebec
  • New Quebec Sculpture, Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montreal
  • Survey/Sondage ’70: Réalism(e)s, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Concours Artistiques du Québec, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal; Musée de Québec
  • Fire & Sausage, Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto
  • Peaceable Kingdom, King Edward Village, Vancouver
  • Desire, National Ballet School of Canada, Toronto
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
  • Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal
  • The National Gallery of Canada
  • The National Ballet School
  • Salah Bachir Collection
  • Art Gallery of Ontario
  • Lethbridge University
  • The Canada Council Art Bank
    Toronto Arts Award for Visual Arts, 1996
  • Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts, 2001
    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sir George Williams University, 1970