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Rudi Christl was born and educated in Munich Germany, where he began his career as a colour separator. In 1965 at the age of 18, he immigrated to Toronto, continuing to pursue his trade, then gradually moving into the art of photography.
Self-taught, Christl began photographing professionally in the early 1970s. Fashion, portraiture and editorial assignments took him across Canada, the U.S. and occasionally back to Europe. Throughout this time, he had always kept his photographer’s eye on Toronto, and in 1977 his first book, co-authored with the late Bill Kilbourne, was published by McClelland & Stewart. Toronto in Words and Pictures garnered rave reviews.
In the late 1970s, Christl changed direction and focused on advertising photography. He was soon shooting for some of Canada’s major agencies, though his personal creative work – in the studio, the city and countryside – continued throughout, and was shown as part of a Canadian artists’ group exhibit in New York. Christl then held his first solo retrospective at the Limited Edition gallery in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood. Christl also delved deeper into the art of portraiture – capturing prominent Canadians such as Pierre Trudeau, poet Irving Layton, and novelist Sylvia Fraser – images that remain classic examples of that period.
An updated ‘sesqui-centennial’ edition of Toronto in Words and Pictures followed in 1982, with both books remaining in print for a total of 15 years. In the meantime, Christl’s commercial and editorial assignments were earning him numerous national and international awards from the Toronto Art Director’s Club. It was at this time that he collaborated with author, Ian Montagnes, on a new photographic book: The University of Toronto – a Souvenir, published by Oxford Press in 1984.
With the 1990s came a new decade and new inspiration for a photographic book on Toronto. In 1999, Toronto the Celebration, made its debut in Toronto book stores. It was embraced by the City and declared Toronto’s official photographic book for the new millennium.
Christl’s solo exhibition, “Looking Back, Sideways and Forward” – a three- decade retrospective – was shown at Toronto’s Wagner Rosenbaum Gallery in November 2001. This exhibit featured 27 large format ‘giclee’ prints. This was followed by an exhibit entitled “Out Takes” at Toronto’s Peterson Fine Art Gallery, showcasing photographs from Christl’s books and personal selections. He also participated in a group exhibition at Toronto’s Art Square Gallery, summer through September 2005. Rudi Christl is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and continues to publish.