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Art 'busts' thrown out

In the 1960s, police busted a gallery owner for an installation of nudes. More recently, when an artist filmed a cat being killed and eaten, the artist was locked up. Even if the country's definition of obscenity has transformed over time, for decades the debate has stayed the same: Is art censorship an act thwarting obscenity or an Orwellian control?

In 1975 the cops bust Theatre Passe Muraille's Paul Thompson for his production I Love You Baby Blue, even after the art director haggled down the number of f-words with police. Later, charges before the court are thrown out. The same is the case in 1972 after the morality squad busts Avrom Isaacs for exhibiting Mark Prent's "disgusting objects." Today, CBC radio host Peter Gzowski discusses art "busts."

On the panel are: Isaacs, Thompson and censorship lawyer Julian Porter who, a decade after working on art dealer Dorothy Cameron's case, says how ridiculous it seems today that her exhibit of nudes were banned.
. Avrom Isaacs, later identified as a pioneer of modern Canadian art, opened his first Toronto space, the Greenwich Gallery, in 1955.
. He changed its name to the Isaacs Gallery in 1957 and moved to a better Yonge Street location in 1961.
. Isaacs first installation exhibited the works of seminal Canadian artists such as Michael Snow and Graham Coughtry when they were still unknowns.

. Later shows displayed the art of Joyce Wieland, Gordon Rayner, William Kurelek, John Meredith and Robert Markle, who collectively became "The Isaacs Group" and also started a music project called the Artists' Jazz Band.
. Isaacs soon became intrigued by Inuit art and in 1970 opened the world's first gallery displaying only Inuit art.
Medium: Radio
Program: Gzowski on FM
Broadcast Date: Jan. 26, 1976
Guest(s): Avrom Isaacs, Julian Porter, Paul Thompson
Host: Peter Gzowski
Duration: 7:03

Last updated: January 20, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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