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10 Things You May or May Not Know About Alex Colville

10 Things You May or May Not Know About Alex Colville

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Prompted by the Alex Colville exhibit which I saw at the AGO in Toronto on the last day of 2014, I decided to write about Colville. The exhibit reminded me of how great an artist he was and I learned a few things about him that I didn't know. I decided to share these with you.

Many of his paintings contained images of everyday life. He was able to make the ordinary... extraordinary.

  1. He was born in Toronto in 1920.
  2. He graduated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick with a bachelor of Fine Art.
  3. He served in the Canadian Army, joining in 1942. In 1944 he worked in the army as a war artist. He traveled to the Mediterranean, the Netherlands and Northern Germany and recorded what he saw there. The experiences he had during the war affected his work greatly.
  4. His first works differ from the work he later became known for. His style changed and his paintings became more mathematically designed and laid out with precise brush strokes.
  5. There are recurring themes with his paintings, some of which are: everyday life, imminent danger, home and animals.
  6. His wife served as a model for many of his paintings, including the nudes. Often she didn't know what he was working on. She said that she felt uncomfortable knowing that everyone had seen her nude when she went to the grocery store, but she would rather do that then have Alex work with a nude model.
  7. He designed coins for the Canadian Centennial. 
  8. Colville's wife Rhoda experienced tragedy in her own life. Her father, brother, sister, aunt and grandfather were killed by a train at a level crossing when she was nine. This is possibly where the image of the horse running at a speeding train comes from.
  9. Colville was impacted by the death of President Kennedy and the image of Kennedy's black horse at his funeral. The horse was nervously walking behind Kennedy's casket. A black horse appears in several of Colville's paintings.
  10. Colville loved dogs and they appear in many of his paintings.

Visit the official Alex Colville website for more information about his life and paintings.

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