Fonds F0134 - Avrom Isaacs fonds

Accession 1998-014 [poster collection]

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Avrom Isaacs fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording
  • Moving images

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Physical description area

Physical description

12.28 m of textual records
ca. 470 photographs
5 audio cassettes
17 audio reels
6 video cassettes
2 film reels
14 microfilm reels : positive and negative
ca. 400 prints : posters
1 architectural drawing
ca. 6700 slides

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Avrom Isaacs, Toronto art dealer, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1926 and moved to Toronto with his family in 1941. He graduated with an Honours B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Toronto in 1950. While at university, he opened a picture-framing store with a friend and became the sole proprietor of the Greenwich Art Shop by 1950. Isaacs came into contact with many of Toronto's emerging artists while working at his store and began displaying their art on his shop's walls. This led to the opening of the Greenwich Art Gallery in 1955. The space was renamed The Isaacs Gallery in 1959 and moved to Yonge Street in 1961. Isaacs opened the Inuit Gallery in Toronto in 1970, the first commercial gallery in the world devoted solely to Inuit art. In August 1991, Isaacs consolidated his two galleries to form the Isaacs/Inuit Gallery, which closed in 2001 at the time of his retirement from the business. Over the course of his career, Isaacs represented numerous Canadian artists including Dennis Burton, Michael Snow, Graham Coughtry, Gordon Rayner, Jack Chambers, Joyce Wieland, Mark Prent, John Meredith, William Kurelek, Robert Markle and Gathie Falk. He also sponsored poetry readings, underground film screenings, and mixed media concerts at his gallery. Isaacs served on the executive of the Professional Art Dealers Association of Canada (PADAC), is a former director of the Toronto Arts Awards Foundation, and an Honorary Fellow of the Ontario College of Art. He has served on various arts advisory boards at the municipal, provincial and federal levels and was a member of the board of the Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution Centre from 1979 to 1982, serving as its Chairman from 1981 to 1982. In 1992, Isaacs was made a member of the Order of Canada, was awarded an honorary doctorate by York University, and received the RCAIC (Royal Canadian Architectural Institute of Canada) silver medal. In 2005, 'Isaacs seen : 50 years on the art front, a gallery scrapbook' compiled by Donnalu Wigmore, was published in support of 'Isaacs seen', four interconnected exhibitions held in Toronto that year to illustrate his career.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the business records of The Isaacs Gallery (TIG), the Inuit Gallery and the Isaacs/Inuit Gallery which include personal and professional correspondence, exhibition catalogues, mailings, financial records, and artist files consisting of correspondence, biographical sketches, press clippings, and other material relating to artists represented by Isaacs such as Dennis Burton, Graham Coughtry, William Kurelek, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland, Robert Markle, Greg Curnoe, Gordon Rayner and John Ivor Smith, among others. It also includes artist portfolio files consisting of press clippings and catalogues of their works, a comprehensive slide collection documenting an overview of his gallery exhibits, and promotional files relating to his galleries. The fonds includes Isaacs' poster collection as well as notes written by Isaacs, collected correspondence and reminiscences, drafts, mock-ups and other material related to the writing and creation of the artist's scrapbook 'Isaacs seen.'

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Av Isaacs in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2008.


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Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Access is open.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Reproductions are provided for private research and study only. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright holder.

Finding aids

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The fonds comprises the following accessions: 1996-036, 1997-034, 1998-014, 1999-020, 2000-006, 2006-012, 2008-015, and 2009-006. No further accruals are expected.

General note

Finding aid may contain language from the era in which it was written. This includes historical, unclear, or biased terminology which may not have been selected by Indigenous peoples. To learn more about historical and contemporary terminology, see resources listed at

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2002/04/04 Jizi Chen:. (Creation)
2002/04/04 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2002/10/15 Shannon MacDonald. Update wording in Extent, Biographical sketch, Access restrictions and Accruals notes. Delete 'other note' on source of title.
2002/10/22 Shannon MacDonald. Update wording in access restrictions.
2003/04/03 Shannon MacDonald. Add URL for online finding aid.
2006/07/14 Sean Smith. Updated fonds level description to incorporate 2006-012. Revised biographical sketch, scope and content note and updated extents and dates of creation.
2008/09/25 Dubeau. Cleaned up typographical errors in biographical sketch and scope and content and reformatted. Dubeau. Integrate accession 2008-015 into fonds level description. Dubeau. Restrictions on access and use note updated.
2009/03/30 Dubeau. Corrected details in biographical sketch and accruals note.
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM
2019/05/02 KCP. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Addition of GMD and accession numbers. Added 2009-006 accrual notes. Published description and uploaded legacy file inventories.
2020/10/26 KCP. Added historical language note.

Language of description

  • English


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