DENNIS EUGENE NORMAN BURTON
DEEP BLUE DREAM, 1962
oil on canvas
signed and dated “1.26.62”; also signed, titled, dated on the stretcher, and inscribed “1-25-1962” on the overflap
48 ins x 48 ins; 121.9 cms x 121.9 cms
Avant-gardist, Dadaist, saxophone player for the Artist’s Jazz Band, Toronto, painter and exemplary draughtsman, Dennis Burton (1933-2013) was a precocious, diversely talented artist. Along with Gordon Rayner and Robert Markle he was one of the youngest members in the renowned Isaacs Group of artists active in Toronto. It is likely that Burton saw the first Painters 11 exhibition in February 1954 at Roberts Gallery and through this developed a great admiration for the work of William Ronald.
Burton’s education commenced at the University of Southern California (1955). Both his life and Rayner’s were altered immeasurably upon seeing a January 1955 exhibition of the work of Michael Snow and Graham Coughtry held at Hart House, University of Toronto. He continued studies at the Ontario College of Art (graduating in 1956) and worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto as a senior graphic designer from 1957 to 1960. He would have seen the 1957 Painters 11 exhibition held at Park Gallery, Toronto, too.
Having metabolised all these formative influences, Burton declared that he was dedicated to painting solely abstract paintings. He stayed true to this pledge through 1962, the year of this exquisite abstraction.
Its size, 48 by 48 inches, was his preferred square format and about the largest work that he made 1958-62. It reflects his awareness and appreciation for the work of Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and members of second generation Abstract Expressionism.
Burton taught painting and drawing at the Ontario College of Art (1970-1971), was Director of the New School of Art (1971-1977) and President of Art’s Sake (1977-1978), taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts (1974), University of Lethbridge (1976 & 1989) and the Emily Carr College of Art (1980-1999). His work is in many public and private collections among them: National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery, University of Lethbridge, Glenbow Museum, and Robert Mclaughlin Gallery.
Private Collection, California
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, n.d.