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Archival description
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services Frederic Urban fonds
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Frederic Urban fonds

  • UTA 1918
  • Fonds
  • 1962-2007

Personal records of Frederic Urban, artist and lecturer in architecture, documenting his education, teaching and professional activities, particularly from his entering the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design in 1975 through his teaching at the University of Waterloo and the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Includes correspondence, notes, teaching materials, files on research in Italy and on exhibitions and performance. Also includes files on visiting lectureships, especially at the Nanjing Institute of Technology/South East University in Nanjing, China (1987-1988), architectural drawings, photographs, slides, posters, publications, film and video.

Urban, Frederic

Photographs and slides

The photographs, slides and contact prints in this series consist mainly of images associated with the textual records and usually removed from them. The arrangement relates directly to the textual series of which they are part and then arranged chronologically within.

Manuscripts and publications

Professor Urban’s writings focus on the relationship between art and architectural design. Six of his publications are present in this series. Some of those that appeared before 1986 and all published afterward are absent. His earliest writing are based on his involvement with Networks Limited in Halifax, then on collaboration with New York City artist Brian Boigon, and finally on his research in Italy in the 1980s.

Lectures and criticism

Frederic Urban gave a number of addresses as a visiting artist and lecturer. In 1979 he was a visiting artist at Ohio State University, where he photographed a number of student street performances. In October 1981 he was guest lecturer with the Venice Study Abroad Program run by the Department of Architecture at the University of Toronto. The following year he was a guest lecturer at University College in the University of Toronto for Larry Richard’s course, “Introduction to architecture”. In 1984 and 1985 he gave lectures
on his Sacri Monti project at Carleton University and the University of Toronto. In 1991 he
was a visiting lecturer at the University of Wisconsin at Stout. Some of the addresses are documented in this series. For related correspondence, see Series 2.

Professor Urban was a member of the Board of Directors of the Sharon Temple Museum Society from 1996 to 2001 and he and Larry were invited to participate in a series of readings and performances.

Studio work, exhibitions and performances

This series begins with Frederick Urban’s formative years as an artist when he created a large number of exhibits and participated in some performance pieces, primarily in Halifax and New York City. For some of these, he drew on his personal experiences. Two examples are An Acadian genealogy (April 1977), inspired by his family roots in the Acadian region of Brunswick, and Monk (July 1977) by his training as a novice in 1961-1962.

The files cover his years at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1976-1977), continue through his post-graduate studies at the Whitney Museum of American Art, his interest in the art and architecture of Italy (spurred on by his meeting Giuseppe Panza di Biumo), and several installations connected to Canadian architecture and architectural history. The last exhibition, ‘The place of work’, accompanied the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s annual conference in Winnipeg in 1989. The arrangement is primarily chronological.

The series ends with several files on performance pieces, the most significant being Anne Wilson and her Butler’s lives of the saints, which was performed both in Halifax and New York City, and an oversized folder of posters for exhibitions and performance pieces collected by Urban.

Some of the exhibitions and performance pieces contain correspondence, drawings and sketches, photographs and/or slides. A number are represented by a combination of photographs and slides or slides alone, with no textual accompaniment. There are also several oversized folders of sketches and drawings for of posters for exhibitions and performance pieces with which Urban was involved and one of posters for events which he may have attended but to which he did not contribute.

Research

Frederick Urban had a passionate interest in the art and architecture of Italy and much of his research, after his studies at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, was focussed on that country. He received grants for two projects in Italy, “The Sacri Monti of Northern Italy” (1985-1989) and for his “House/Custoza” project (1985). The other principal grants funded his visiting professorship at Nanjing Institute of Technology/South East University in Nanjing, China in 1987 and 1988, the files for which are found in Series 4.

This series begins with general files on the Sacri Monti research project, including corres-pondence and grant applications, literature, maps, general research material, photographs, posters, and some tracings. There are also files for each year that Urban was in Italy, arranged chronologically. They document his itinerary and contain correspondence, a sampling of programs and brochures, programs for the Biennale of Venice (1985), and one journal (1986).

The series ends with files on exhibitions and performances of interest, along with a selection of slides, photoprints, postcards and posters. There is a folder of cards, notices and programs for a number of exhibitions and performances, primarily Canadian (1978-1992), followed by cards and catalogues for particular exhibits: Christo (1979-1982), Creative Time (including Butler’s lives of the saints), Garry Neil Kennedy, Miami University Art Museum, The New Yorker, and Andy Warhol/Jamie Wyeth. The slides are of ‘design elements’, raves in Toronto, the Toronto Sculpture Garden, and ‘Women study’. The photoprints are of streetscapes in Toronto, taken in the early 1980s. There are ‘Special postcards’ [design elements] collected by Urban, postcards of photographs taken by the British photographer, Frank Sutcliffe, ‘Die einrichtungen der Akaademie der Kűnste der DDR’ (1979), and ‘The theatre of architecture’ by Susan Speigel (Toronto, 1986).

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