Canada’s Greatest 20th Century Artist

(“Embarkation”, subject of a rare signed book Embarkation: The Genesis of a Painting which I own, that I bought at a local gallery)

(Colville’s signatures are usually on the small side)

(an awesomely rare signed personal letter)


Thomson, MacDonald, and Harris were the first great artists of the 20th century, but because they focused on landscapes exclusively, they lacked the range and variety of Alex Colville’s work.

Colville subtly and deeply affected my consciousness and sensibility. His work speaks eloquently and timelessly about man’s inhumanity to man (his WWII paintings and drawings), man and nature, the unnoticed juxtapositions in daily life, the implicit dangers within life, and the mysteries of people, relationships, and life.

My list of favorites is a long one:

-Dead Paratrooper near Deventer Holland (1945)

-The History of Mount Allison (1948)

-Tragic Landscape (1948)

-Children in Tree (1957)

-Dog, Boy and St. John River (1958)

-Dog, Boy and School Bus Ocean Limited (1962)

-June Noon (1963)

-Snow (1969)

-Professor of Romance Languages (1973)

-Looking Up (1975) –on a poster in my garage

-Swimming Dog and Canoe (1979)

-Main Street (1979)

-Cyclist and Crow (1981)–on a poster over my bed

-At Grand Pre (1982)

-Steve (1988)

-Chaplain (1991)

-Embarkation (1994)–c.f. above

-Coyote and Alders (1995)

-On a River (1996)–on a poster over my study door

-St. Croix (1997)

-Dog in Car (1995)

-Terrier and Crow (2001)

-William (2002)


Most of my journey the last 5 years have been about consciousness which was a recurring theme in Colville’s work. Colville was the first Canadian painter whose work I saw which intrigued and fascinated me. His best work, for me, always starts with a definite immediate feelings, mood, or impression followed by a sense of implied context and hidden narrative. Much of his work has moved my heart, mind, and spirit. No app could ever replace Alex Colville and his body of work!

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