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Honorary degree citation - James Borcoman

By: Penelope Cousineau, June 1996

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you James Borcoman, known for his outstanding contribution to the field of photography. During a distinguished career covering 34 years at the National Gallery of Canada, James Borcoman has been Education Officer, Director of Exhibitions and Education, Head of Publications and Curator of Photographs. Upon his retirement from the National Gallery, he became Curator Emeritus of that institution.

II fait oeuvre de pionnier au Canada en favorisant la reconnaissance de la photographie comme forme d'art et crée, en 1967, la Collection des photographies de la Galerie nationale du Canada, aujourd'hui le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, la première à être conservée dans un musée d'art canadien. Responsable de la conservation de la collection pendant 28 ans, il a à coeur son enrichissement (19 000 photographies) et son rayonnement puisqu'il participe à l'organisation d'une cinquantaine d'expositions. C'est ainsi que la collection a acquis une réputation internationale grâce aux chefs-d'oeuvre des XIXe et XXe siècles qu'elle renferme et à l'excellence des expositions et des publications qui l'accompagnent.

Among Mr. Borcoman's numerous monographs and articles are Magicians of Light; Karsh: The Art of the Portrait; Eugene Atget, 1857-1927; Goodridge Roberts: A Retrospective Exhibition; and the award winning Charles Nègre, 1820-1880, for which, in 1977, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Photographic Historical Society of New York and a bronze medal from the Leipzig International Book Fair.

A native of Ontario, James Borcoman received his BA from the University of New Brunswick in 1955, and an MFA from the University of Buffalo in 1975. He has been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Ottawa, and he is the holder of an honorary adjunct lectureship at the University of Arizona. He has lectured widely in Canada, the United States and France, and continues as a consultant and lecturer on the history of photography.

Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and a personal pleasure to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, James Borcoman, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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