Arnaud Maggs, contemporary photographer, was born in Montreal on 5 May 1926. From childhood, he was passionate about art and design. In 1950, he studied typography under Carl Dair, and nine years later, attended drawing courses at the Scuola da belle Arti da Brera in Milan. Maggs worked as a graphic designer in Montreal, Toronto, New York, Santa Fe and Milan from 1950 to 1965. He became interested in photography in 1966. In 1974, he returned to drawing classes, this time at the Artists' Workshop in Toronto. Maggs studied printmaking at the Ontario College of Art, and began painting and working in other media in 1985.

During his career as a graphic artist, Maggs was awarded numerous prizes, including: the New York Art Directors Club Award (1957, 1961, 1966, 1968 and 1969); the New York Type Directors Club Award (1961, 1963, 1966 and 1979); the American Institute of Graphic Arts Award (1962); the American Society of Graphic Designers Award (1962); the Society of Illustrators Award (1965); Graphica (1965); the National Magazine Award (1979), and the Toronto Art Directors Club Gold Award (1982).

As a commercial photographer, Maggs was commissioned to produce portraits of leading Canadian figures in the arts, politics and business, such as Harold Town, Karen Kain, Timothy Findley, Northrop Frye, Eldon Garnet, Graeme Gibson, Adele Wiseman, Stephen Lewis, Al Waxman, Leonard Cohen, Alice Munro, Irving Layton, Rachel Wyatt, Lily Schreyer, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Joe Clark and Jean Chrétien. These portraits are casual, posed and enigmatic studies of his subjects, in stark opposition to the precise geometry of the portraits in his fine art photographs.

In such series as Sixty-Four Portraits (1976-1978), Starn Twins (1978), Série LeDoyen (1979), Kunstakademie (1980), Joseph Beuys, 100 Frontal Views and Joseph Beuys, 100 Profile Views (1980), Downwind Photographs (1981-1983),and Turning (1981-1983), Maggs photographs a single subject in black and white against a neutral backdrop in a sequence of taxonomic views, such as full frontal and profile. The subjects for his installation 48 Views (1981-1983) include some of Canada's best known artists and cultural leaders, such as Martha Hanna, William Ronald, Gabor Szilasi, John Max, Sam Tata, David Miller, Clara Gutsche, Suzy Lake, Liz Magor, Adrienne Clarkson, John Ralston Saul, Anne Thomas, James Borcoman, Pierre Boogaerts, Renee Van Halm, David Heath, Stan Denniston, Michael Schreier, Evergon, Noel Harding, Colin Campbell, John Reeves, Walter Curtin, Yousuf Karsh, Michael Snow and Ydessa Hendeles.

Maggs has numerous solo exhibitions to his credit in Canada and abroad; most recently, he was honoured with a retrospective at the Power Plant, Toronto (1999). His work is held in many significant public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris, FRAC Rhône-Alpes and the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 1991, he was awarded the Gershon Iskowitz Toronto Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Works located in: Canada Council Art Bank; Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; National Gallery of Canada.


Arnold Maggs passed away at the age of 86 in November 2012.