Barbara Astman

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Barbara Astman
Barbara Astman in her studio
Barbara Anne Astman

(1950-07-12) July 12, 1950 (age 73)
EducationRIT (School for American Craftsmen), OCA
AwardsOntario Arts Council, Canada Council

Barbara Anne Astman RCA (born July 12, 1950) is a Canadian artist who has recruited instant camera technology, colour xerography, and digital scanners to explore her inner thoughts.[1][2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Astman was born in Rochester, New York, the second of three children of Bertha (née Meisel, a homemaker) and George Astman (an auto mechanic and salesman.) She received her associate degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology's School for American Craftsmen in 1970. That year, she moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada to study at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University,) and graduated with an associate degree (A.O.C.A.) in 1973.[3] She joined the faculty of OCAD in 1975, served as Chair of Photography (2001-2002), and Professor in the Faculty of Art (2002-2021). She retired in 2021 as Professor Emerita.[4]


Since the early 1970s Astman has explored a wide range of photo-based media and produced work, which has received recognition in Canada and abroad.[4][5]

Her first public solo exhibition immediately upon graduating from OCA (OCADU) was held in 1973, at Toronto's Baldwin Street Gallery of Photography. Two years later, the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada renamed as the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa and now part of the National Gallery of Canada, hosted her first museum show.

Since then, she has had an extensive and prestigious solo exhibition history. Her major touring retrospective exhibition, Barbara Astman - Personal/Persona - A 20 Year Survey was curated by Liz Wylie (Art Gallery of Hamilton, 1995). In May 2011, her installation, Dancing with Che: Enter through the Gift Shop (Kelowna Art Gallery, 2013) toured across Canada. Barbara Astman: I as artifact featured a new series of works accompanied by a comprehensive publication (McIntosh Gallery, 2014) and Barbara Astman Looking: Then and Now (Corkin Gallery), a two-part exhibition received recognition in 2016.[4]

She has been included in major group exhibitions, such as: Beautiful Fictions (AGO, 2009); Light My Fire Part I: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography (AGO, 2013); Herland, (60 Wall Gallery, New York 2014);Look Again: Colour Xerography Art Meets Technology (AGO, 2015); Living Building Thinking: Art and Expressionism (McMaster Museum of Art, 2016), and Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 (AGO, 2016), among many others.[4]

Astman is represented by Corkin Gallery, Toronto and Paul Kyle Gallery, Vancouver.[4]

Her artist's archives are held in the E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives Special Collections, Art Gallery of Ontario.[6]


She has completed several public art commissions, including a floor installation for the Calgary Winter Olympics (1987), a public art installation for the new Canadian Embassy in Berlin, Germany[7] (2005), consisting of a fritted glass tower wall; the Murano on Bay in Toronto consisted of 217 windows with photo-based imagery (2010); and a photographic installation (The Fossil Book) for the inaugural exhibition at the new Koffler Gallery (Toronto, 2013).[4]

Service to the Arts Community[edit]

Astman has served on numerous boards and advisory committees, including the Art Gallery of Ontario's Board of Trustees (2009-2013) and as the Chair of the Art Advisory Committee, Koffler Gallery, Toronto and Vice President, Board of Directors, Prefix (ICA) Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto.

In addition, she has co-curated an installation titled The Emergence of Feminism: Changing the Course of Art, featuring work by Joyce Wieland, Suzy Lake and Lisa Steele (AGO, 2008).[8]


In 2000 she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy.[9]

Public collections[edit]

Astman is represented in important public, corporate and private collections in Canada and abroad including the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Deutche Bank, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The following permanent collections, among others, hold her work:

Critical reception[edit]

Canadian Art Magazine featured a profile of Astman’s career in the Spring 2014 issue.[4]

The Clementine Suite

"...a celebration of the human spirit."[23]

Dancing With Che

"...echoes across more than a century of technological innovation and evolution of the medium".[24]
"Audacious, humorous, improbable."[25]


"Intimate, personal, and quietly enthralling."[26]


  1. ^ Georgiana Uhlyarik, "Dear Canadian Art, I was thinking about you...". Moving the Museum: Indigenous + Canadian Art at the AGO. Art Gallery of Ontario and Goose Lane Editions, 2023.
  2. ^ Enright, Robert. Border Crossings Issue #90, Vol. 23, No.1, May 2004, pp. 43-50
  3. ^ a b Allen, Karyn Elizabeth. "Article". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Faculty". OCAD. Retrieved 2 June 2023.
  5. ^ a b guhlyarik. "Barbara Astman: A Movie For One". Canadian Art. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  6. ^ "Special Collectiona". Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives Special Collections. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  7. ^ Government of Canada Archived 2013-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Murray, Joan; Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century, Dundurn Press, 1999, pp168-170
  9. ^ The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts "Royal Canadian Academy of Arts - Académie royale des arts du Canada". Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  10. ^ "Collection". Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  11. ^ "Contemporary Collection". Art Gallery of Hamilton. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  12. ^ "The Collection | Art Gallery of Ontario". Art Gallery of Ontario. Archived from the original on 2018-03-09. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  13. ^ a b "Barbara Astman". OCAD. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  14. ^ "Barbara Astman: personal persona : a 20-year survey | Art Gallery Collections".
  15. ^ Astman, Barbara. "Works in the Collection". Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  16. ^ "Collections". Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Collection". Mcintosh Gallery, London, Ontario. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  18. ^ "Untitled #9 | All Works | the MFAH Collections".
  19. ^ "Barbara Astman".
  20. ^ "Barbara Astman | Works | eMuseum | UofT Art Museum".
  21. ^ "The Art of Light". 19 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Collection". Winnipeg Art Gallery. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  23. ^ Dault, Julia; National Post, Jan. 12, 2006
  24. ^ Liss, David and Rubenstein, Bonnie, Exhibition Curators, Still Revolution: Suspended in Time, the Museum for Contemporary Canadian Art, May, 2009
  25. ^ Wylie, Liz; Canadian Art, Fall 2003, Volume 20, No. 3, p. 139
  26. ^ Whyte, Murray, Toronto Star, Wonderland Nov. 16, 2009. Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]