The National Gallery of Canada Mourns the Loss of Great Canadian Artist Alex Colville

- July 18, 2013

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is saddened by the news of artist Alex Colville’s passing earlier this week at the age of 92 in his Nova Scotia home. A world-renowned painter, draftsman, printmaker, and muralist, Alex Colville is known especially for his remarkable paintings that celebrate everyday life and reflect on middle-class and democratic society.

"Alex Colville is an icon of Canadian art. He leaves us with a rich body of work that has brought pleasure to audiences around the world and will continue to do so indefinitely,” said NGC director Marc Mayer. “We are proud that several of his most beloved pictures, some going back to the 1950s, are part of our national collection. In fact, his service to this institution went beyond gracing its collection. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family.”

The NGC collection comprises 64 works by Alex Colville, including Child and Dog (1952), Hound in Field (1958), and To Prince Edward Island (1965), an iconic painting featuring a woman looking out to sea through a pair of binoculars. This past May, the artist donated never-before-seen material from his personal archives to the NGC, including personal and professional correspondence from the 1950s to the present; grade-school textbooks and scribblers with drawings and marginalia; photographs that he took; and daily agendas, notebooks, and diaries. This material, which will be received by the NGC next fall, will be available for public viewing once archived.

Colville has always remained aloof from the formal trends that have characterized the 20th century. Described as a Magic Realist, Colville's highly stylized representation omits phenomena such as cast shadows while creating detailed forms through layered brushstrokes of colour. His compositions are rigorously constructed according to a precise geometry and executed with a technique that consists of minuscule dabs of paint applied meticulously dot by dot. The ocean, animals, and people are recurrent themes in his work.

Throughout his career, Colville was a well-known artist who received numerous honours. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982, and he won the Governor General's Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003. He served as a member of the Board of the National Gallery of Canada from 1990 to 1993. Major retrospectives of his work were held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1983 and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1994. His work has been exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally, and it can be found in public and private collections including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Musée national d'Art moderne — Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information: www.gallery.ca

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