Harold Town

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Harold Town
Born Harold Barling Town
(1924-06-13)June 13, 1924
Toronto, Ontario
Died December 27, 1990(1990-12-27) (aged 66)
Peterborough, Ontario[1]
Nationality Canadian
Education Central Technical School, Ontario College of Art
Known for Painting, printmaking, illustration
Movement Painters Eleven

Harold Town, OC (June 13, 1924 – December 27, 1990) was a Canadian abstract painter. He is best known as a member of Painters Eleven a group of abstract artists active in Toronto from 1954-1960. Town coined the name of the group, which was based simply on the number of artists that were present the first meeting.[2] He also worked as an illustrator, appearing in magazines such as Maclean's and Mayfair.

Life and work[edit]

Harold Town was trained at Central Technical School and Ontario College of Art, both in Toronto. Influenced by the work of Pablo Picasso and Willem de Kooning, and as well, Asian art at the Royal Ontario Museum, he developed a collage technique that was acclaimed[3] Known as an "unpredictable" painter[2] Town's work moved quickly from a dark expressionist style to abstraction which contrasted vivid colours.[2] In the 1960s, Town developed a style of prints which he called "Single Autographic Prints" a phrase he never explained.[2] These monotype prints were colourful and delicate,[2] winning Town awards in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia and Santiago, Chile, where the prints were acquired by the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA0. Alfred Barr the director of MoMA at the time called Town "one of the world's greatest printmakers."[3]

Town was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts[4] In 1956, works by Town along with those of Jack Shadbolt and Louis Archambault represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. In 1964, Town and Elza Mayhew were chosen to represent Canada in the Venice Biennale.[5] Town's work also represented Canada at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1957 and 1961.[3] He was recognized with the Biennale de São Paulo’s Arno Award in 1957.[1] York University granted him an honorary doctorate in 1966.[1] He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1968.[6][1]

Town had retrospective exhibitions at the Windsor Art Gallery in 1975 and the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1986.

Painters Eleven[edit]

Main article: Painters Eleven

In the late 1940s Town met Walter Yarwood and others involved in avant-garde art in Toronto and although he was not included in the Abstracts at Home exhibition held in 1953 at the Robert Simpson Company, Toronto, he joined Painters Eleven when the group was formed later that year. In Canada's conservative art world their early exhibitions were met with disdain.[7][8] Nevertheless, Painters Eleven attracted U.S. exposure with a successful exhibition, Twentieth Annual Exhibition of American Abstract Artists with "Painters Eleven of Canada in 1956, with the American Abstract Artists at the Riverside Gallery in New York,[9] and were praised by the influential critic Clement Greenberg on a visit he paid to Toronto in 1957.[10] In the Canadian press, the group's most ardent supporters were art critic Robert Fulford and Pearl McCarthy, art critic of the Globe and Mail. The group formally disbanded in 1960.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Harold Town". National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Fulford, "Introduction"
  3. ^ a b c thecanadianencyclopedia.com
  4. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Past Canadian Exhibitions". National Gallery of Canada at the Venice Biennale. National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "Harold B. Town, O.C., D.Litt., A.R.C.A.". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, p.92
  8. ^ Burnett and Schiff Contemporary Canadian Art, p. 46
  9. ^ a b Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, p.96
  10. ^ Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada, p.91

Further reading[edit]

  • Broad, Graham. "Art Shock in Toronto: Painters Eleven, The Shock of the New." The Beaver, Canada’s History Magazine Vol. 84:1 (2004).
  • Burnett, David G. Town. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1986. ISBN 0-7710-1781-2
  • Fulford, Robert. "Introduction." Magnificent Decade: The Art of Harold Town, 1955-1965. Toronto: The Moore Gallery, 1997.
  • Nasgaard, Roald. Abstract Painting in Canada. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2008. ISBN 1-55365-394-7
  • Withrow, William J. Contemporary Canadian Painting. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972. ISBN 0-7710-9029-3
  • Nowell, Iris. "Hot Breakfast For Sparrows: My Life With Harold Town," Toronto; Stoddart Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-7737-2645-4
  • Nowell, Iris. "Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art," Vancouver: Doublas & McIntyre, 2010. ISBN 978-1-55365-590-9

External links[edit]