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OCAD U community remembers distinguished stage designer Murray Bernard Laufer

A black and white photo of Murray Bernard Laufer, interacting with a diorama of a theatre stage
OCAD U community remembers distinguished stage designer Murray Bernard Laufer

The OCAD University community mourns the passing of Murray Bernard Laufer, an accomplished stage designer, painter and printmaker. Laufer, who passed away on June 17, 2021 at the age of 91, graduated from OCA in 1952 and went on to teach at the University.   

“Before OCA offered courses in sculpture and installation Murray taught students to think dimensionally and spatially. He excelled at using discarded materials to make us aware that anything we touch has potential to be activated creatively,” remembers Faculty of Art Professor Michèle White.  
“Murray’s influence can be seen in the work of countless artists and designers he taught during his time at OCA,” she says. 

About Murray Bernard Laufer 

Murray Bernard Laufer is known best for his work as a stage designer. Throughout his illustrious career, he designed sets for The Stratford Festival, The Shaw Festival, CBC Television, The Canadian Opera Company, The Banff Centre and the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. He was lauded for his creative stage designs that accompanied the long-running stage production of Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival.  

Following his time in the theatre industry, Laufer refocused his efforts towards his independent fine art practice. He held a studio at 401 Richmond where he created works inspired by his childhood, Rembrandt and the Russian-Jewish expressionist Chaim Soutine. He could be found frequently at Open Studio, at 401 Richmond, working on etchings, lithographs and intaglio prints.  

His first retrospective was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2006, where his works are in the museum’s permanent collection. A second retrospective was held at Peel Art Gallery Museum + Archives (PAMA) in 2018. 
In 1977, Laufer was named an Honorary Fellow of OCAD U and in 1980, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Concordia University.  

“It was under Murray’s tutelage that I first began to understand the meaning of modern sculpture. We were taught to approach our work with the conviction that no materials were unusable or ‘off limits’ to the artist, as long as they were truly utilized in the service of satisfying a deep and genuine creative compulsion,” remembers one of Laufer’s former students, Toronto-based draughtsman, sculptor and photographer Gerard Sternik.  

“Most importantly, Murray taught me to always be aware of how the mind of the artist can fabricate limitations, whilst engaged in the act of creation, and, that learning to sidestep this habit of mind will inevitably open up new and uncharted creative horizons – indefinitely,” he says. 
Photo Credit:  
From The Globe and Mail, John McNeill.  
The Globe and Mail