A Glimpse at Greatness

The Portraiture of Al Gilbert

Beth Tzedec Congregation: June 2009; Miles Nadel Jewish Community Centre, December 2009; The Market Gallery, St. Lawrence Market, spring 2010

Al Gilbert is considered one of Canada’s greatest portrait photographers and the OJA is home to  the largest public repository of his photographs. Gilbert has made a name for himself as a portrait photographer, initially, producing portraits of families, weddings, bar mitzvahs, special events and dinners. Though, he continued with that work, he also went on to photograph many artistic portraits of local, national and international celebrities, artists and leaders. In 2009, the OJA organized an exhibition that honoured Gilbert’s contribution to the community, his accomplishments as a photographer, and the generous donation of his collection to the OJA.  

On view were 30 of Gilbert’s award-winning portraits including Murray Koffler, Frank Sinatra, David Ben Gurion, Oscar Peterson, Liona Boyd, Prime Minister Diefenbaker, and Wayne & Shuster. A small selection of photographs by Nathan Gilbert, his father and mentor, were also part of the exhibition.

In addition to being named a fellow of the photographic societies of Canada, the U.S. and Britain, he was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 2007, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Professional Photographers of America.

This exhibition was made possible due to the generous financial support of Joey and Toby Tanenbaum.

Click images to enlarge