Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tuesday Treasures

Ivaan Kotulsky
was an artist and photographer, living and working in Toronto. 
According to an interview with his widow, Eya Donald Greenland Kotulsky, he was born in a Nazi slave labour camp, during World War II. 
Kotulsky had a distinguished career as a photographer, producing portraits of high-profile individuals, like Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. 
Kotulsky also documented the lives of street people, and that collection of photos has been donated to the City of Toronto archives, which organized a gallery show, to celebrate their acquisition, and subsequently made them available for download.

“Crowd estimated at 3,000 converged at Yonge and Wellesley Sts. yesterday crusade for homosexual rights after police raids on four steambaths.” Photo by Ivaan Kotulsky.

Kotulsky was said to have been able to see beauty in things people ordinarily overlook, explaining the quality of the intimate images he took of street people. 

In 1949, after having lived for four years as refugees in a Displaced Persons' camp, his family immigrated to Canada, sponsored by a blacksmith in Smoky Lake, Alberta. By 1951, his family had relocated to Toronto's Cabbagetown, near the Don Valley ravine, which provided a slice of nature in downtown Toronto for Ivaan to explore. Kotulsky would later credit his exposure to the kindly blacksmith as having kindled his own interest in metalworking which found its outlet in jewellery making, at the age of 25.

The engagement ring with which he proposed to his wife featured a very large green stone—which was originally a discarded piece of Seven Up bottle. Never in robust health, Ivaan suffered two heart attacks in the early 1990s. In 1995, Kotulsky opened a retail store on Queen Street West. That year, he and Eya Donald Greenland were married. They had first met in 1969; she was 16 and working after school at the Harbord Bakery, which he frequented. In 2000, Kotulsky experienced the first of a series of strokes that eventually led to his paralysis and affected his ability to create new works of art.

In 2005, after his third stroke, when he lacked the strength and dexterity to continue working independently, Eya started to assist him in his studio, often working with his original moulds, using the lost wax casting technique. She told Nicole Baute, writing in the Toronto Star, that she never intended to continue making pieces from those moulds after he died, beyond filling the outstanding orders, but customers continued to request pieces. The Art Gallery of Ontario, which had commissioned Kotulsky in 1979 to create a collection of jewellery and metal art inspired by King Tutankhamun, hosted a long-running exhibition of King Tutankhamun artefacts in 2009, and requested she produce additional reproductions of his work for display in the AGO Shop. Ivaan's wife, Eya, continued to operate his studio, ATELIER IVAAN, to showcase and preserve his artistic legacy until December, 2018.


  1. wow life certainly didn't get easy for people after the holocaust, I can't imagine what they went through.

  2. He was an interesting and productive bloke and certainly deserves a lane named after him.

  3. Your new header is an urban delight!

  4. I´ve been into Photography 21 years now. Of witch studying it full time 2.5 years. First time I heard of him, thank You for sharing.

  5. Really interesting post. I love the 47up stone story. Ha.

  6. A power full person. It amazing what we learn from blogging

  7. What a fascinating read about an artist I've never heard of before. So sad he died so young. He must have been very inventive and I would love to see that engagement ring!

  8. I'm glad you introduced us to this amazing person :)

    Thanks for sharing your link at My Corner of the World this week!

  9. Fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2021/08/american-tobacco-campus-durham-nc.html


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