The Canadian artist photographer Arnaud Maggs, who explored subjects of identity and categorisation has died age 86. Maggs has often been described as an aesthete. Through his photographs he gives us the opportunity to look again at our surroundings to see the unusual beauty in the commonplace – in the shapes of people’s heads, the markings of time in old books and paper ephemera, as well as the different typography we encounter in our everyday lives.
His final year was triumphant for his career. He won the $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Prize as well as the GG for visual arts and was honoured with a solo show at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
As part of his win for the Scotiabank Photography Prize, Maggs’ work will be featured at Toronto’s Contact photography festival in May 2013 and German publisher Steidl which specializes in high-quality photography books. Maggs was also a past winner of the Governor General’s Award for visual art.
Born in Montreal, Maggs trained as a graphic designer and moved into art photography in the mid-1970s at the age of 47.Ledoyen Series, Working notes, 1976-78 by Arnaud Maggs. He frequently showed multiple images of his subjects. (Scotiabank Photography Prize) After earning success as a graphic designer and as a commercial and fashion photographer in New York and Toronto, his early artistic work explored photographic portraiture and featured multiple images of a single subject.
He is best known for the portrait series Joseph Beuys, 100 Profile Views and Joseph Beuys, 100 Frontal Views showcasing the German artist and friend. He also created stark, grid-like arrangements of photographs of Yousuf Karsh, André Kertész, literary critic and author Northrop Frye and other members of the Toronto arts community.
Maggs died Saturday of cancer at Kensington Hospice in Toronto, according to gallery owner Susan Hobbs.He is survived by his wife, artist Spring Hurlbut, two sons, Lorenzo and Toby and daughter, Caitlan, their mother Margaret Frew, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.