George Legrady was born in Budapest, immigrated to Montreal, Québec during the 1956 Hungarian uprising, moved to California in 1981 and currently has dual Canadian-American citizenship. He began his studies in classical music at Mont-Jesus-Marie in the French Canadian language. He transferred to Marymount High School, and from 1965 until 1969 was active as a rock and roll keyboard musician. He also worked at numerous jobs during this time including construction, and factory work and for a while, was a card carrying member of both the United Steelworkers' and the Musicians' Unions. In July 1969, he witnessed the NASA landing on the moon while working as an underground miner for INCO in Thompson, Manitoba, in the Canadian sub-arctic.
He was introduced to fine arts photography by the artist Charles Gagnon and the photographer John Max during his undergraduate studies in Humanities at Loyola College. In 1970, he travelled for a year in Europe and the Middle East. With his brother Miklos and two other photographers, he produced a photographic documentary on the Cree Indians' way of life in northern Quebec at the time of the flooding of the lands by the James Bay Hydro-Electric Corporation in 1971 and 1972. Between 1972-73 he continued his undergraduate studies in photography and visual anthropology at Goddard College, Vermont, an alternative liberal arts college, steeped in the counter culture movement of the sixties. In 1976 he received his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the San Francisco Art Institute, then returned to Canada where he began his first fulltime teaching apointment at the University of Western Ontario.
His artistic research work at that time was based on a theoretical and analytic examination of the conventions by which photographic images conveyed meaning. In 1981 he moved to La Jolla, California, and began computer programming as an artistic practice in the studio of Professor Harold Cohen at UCSD. Between 1982-84 he was visiting professor at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1983 he travelled through Central Europe producing a photographic documentary on Communist iconography which he followed two years later with a photographic documentary of handpainted advertising billboards in China. From 1984-1988 he held a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he received awards for his work integrating computer technology into fine arts. His first digital prints were produced in 1987 using the Fujichrome system at UCLA.
In 1988-89, Legrady received a Canada Council residency award for their Paris studio program. From 1989 until 1997 he was professor at San Francisco State University in the Conceptual Design and Information Arts program and began his work in interactive media installations and cd-rom production. Since 1989, he has been travelling extensively between Europe, California, and recently Asia for projects, exhibitions and conferences. In the fall of 1994 he was visiting professor at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts. At this time he received a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Fellowship and a Canada Council Computer Media Arts Award for his work in digital media art. From 1996 to 2000, he was professor at Merz Academie of Visual Communication in Stuttgart, Germany where he created the Interactive Media pathway with an emphasis on interface design, interactive installations, and motion sensing systems for multimedia installations. In fall 2000, he received his appointment at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he currently works and lives.
The Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
The Canadian Art Database