Tony Urquhart began his career as a painter. Some of his earliest work includes landscapes such as Primavera, 1957. His association with Av Isaacs, the owner of the Isaacs Gallery (one of Toronto’s most cutting-edge art venues which emerged in the mid 1950’s). In 1956, Isaacs asked Urquhart to join his growing stable of artists, including Michael Snow, Joyce Weiland and Graham Coughtry. Urquhart had his first works shown at the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto when he was only 22. He also had a one-man show in January 1957 and a second in November of the same year with Isaacs. At the time, Urquhart’s influence was from Buffalo, directly from the New York Abstract Expressionists and in 1956 the influence of this movement was still new to the Toronto public.
Urquhart lived in Niagara Falls until September 1960 when he went to London to be the first artist-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario.
Urquhart stayed at the University of Western Ontario in a teaching capacity until 1972 when he joined the faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo, where he remained for three decades, retiring in 1999. Tony Urquhart was named to the Order of Canada in 1995. He is the winner of the 2009 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and the CARFAC Outstanding Contribution Award.