Born in Saint-Lambert, Quebec, Coughtry (1931-1999) learned to paint at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School. Later, after graduating from the Ontario College of Art, he used a traveling scholarship to live in Ibiza, Spain.
His early paintings showed the influence of French and Spanish artists including Pierre Bonnard and Alberto Giacometti, whose jewel-like colours and ghostly, silhouetted forms inspired Coughtry during his studies abroad. Art critic Robert Fulford described these paintings of Coughtry as ones that “worked towards a fusion of light and object: those chairs and tables were at once objects and the light which plays on objects” (Fulford, 1961).
He held his first exhibition in 1955 with artist Michael Snow at the University of Toronto’s Hart House. A friend of Avrom Isaacs, his work was exhibited at the lauded Isaacs Gallery in Toronto for many years.
Coughtry enjoyed a successful career throughout the 1960s, showing at the Albright-Knox, Buffalo; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Guggenheim, New York; the Venice Biennale; the Tate Galleries, London; the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; the Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; among others.
His work is held in numerous private and public collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, The National Gallery of Canada, and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.