George Swinton fonds
Call Number: Mss 210, Pc 190, Tc 115, El 8 (A.97-67, A.05-47, A.07-70, A.12-59)

Title: George Swinton fonds.

Dates: 1906-2002.

Extent: 5.18 m of textual records and other material.

Biographical sketch: George Swinton was born in Vienna, Austria on April 17, 1917. He studied Economics and Political Science in Vienna from 1936 to 1938 before coming to Canada in 1939. He served five years with the Canadian Intelligence Corps in the Canadian Army, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1944. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at McGill in 1946 and took courses at the Montreal School of Art and Design from 1946 to 1947 and the Art Students' League of New York from 1949 to 1950.

Swinton was the Curator of the Saskatoon Art Centre from 1947 to 1949. He was an instructor at Smith College from 1950 to 1953 and Artist-in-Residence at Queen's University from 1953 to 1954. That fall, he joined the faculty of the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, a position that he held for twenty years. From 1974 to 1981, he was a professor of Canadian Studies at Carleton University. His final academic position was an adjunct professorship in the Department of Art History at Carleton University from 1981 to 1985.

Swinton had many interests outside of academia. He was the art critic for the Winnipeg Tribune from 1954 to 1958. He hosted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television series Art in Action from 1959 to 1962. Swinton illustrated a book of poems by Thomas Saunders titled Red River of the North & Other Poems of Manitoba, in 1969. He was the recipient of many honours, including the Centennial Medal in 1967, Member of the Order of Canada in 1979, Professor Emeritus from Carleton University in 1986, and an L.L.D. from the University of Manitoba in 1987.

He was a reknowned authority on Inuit art and the author of numerous articles on the subject. His own art hangs in the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He wrote four books: What is Good Design? with Donald Buchanan (National Industrial Design Council, Ottawa, 1964), Eskimo/Sculpture/Esquimade (McClelland & Stewart, 1965), Sculpture of the Eskimo (McClelland & Stewart, the New York Graphic Society and Christopher Hurst of London, 1972), and Almost Poems (self-published, 2001). A revised edition of his third book was retitled Sculpture of the Inuit (McClelland & Stewart, 1992). He died in Winnipeg on April 22, 2002.

Custodial history: The fonds was donated to University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections in three accessions. The earliest accession was donated by George Swinton in 1997. Two accessions were donated by George Swinton's daughters, Moira and Nelda, in 2005 and 2007. The latest accession was donated by George Swinton to the Architecture/Fine Arts Library at the University of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections aquired the slides in 2012.

Scope and content: The 1997 accession is divided into 10 series. They include: biographical material, Swinton's writings, academic correspondence and papers, gallery correspondence, documents pertaining to Swinton's book, Scultpure of the Inuit, documents related to art exhibitions, documents related to Inuit art, documents related to Canadian art (as opposed to dealing exclusively with Inuit art), and research materials.

The 2005 accession is separated into 13 series. They include biographical information, correspondence with publishers, correspondence, manuscripts and drafts, articles and speeches, reviews and brochures of Swinton's work, miscellaneous, sketches, map cabinet material, tape collection, photographs, slides, and negatives.  The 2007 accession consists of video and audio recordings.  The photograph collection consists of 2690 photographs, 52 proof sheets, 2630 slides, 2312 negatives, and 4 videocassettes.  Also included in the fonds are 1321 sketches.  The tape collection consists of 20 audio recordings.  The electronic records collection consists of 4 computer diskettes.

Separation statement: Personal photographs, published material, correspondence, and poetry deemed private by the family have been returned to the donors.

Restrictions: Some financial records, correspondence, manuscripts, and letters of reference are restricted.

Accruals: No further accruals are expected.

Finding aid: On-line finding aids are available at the links below:

Mss 210, Pc 190 (A.97-67)

Mss 210, Pc 190, Tc 115, El 8 (A.05-47, A.07-70).

Pc 190 (A12-59)


Associated/Related Material: A George Swinton fonds is also held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Archives.