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Drapell emigrated to Canada in 1966. From 1968-1970 he studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. At the Cranbrook Academy he met visiting Canadian artist Jack Bush and the American art critic Clement Greenberg, who influenced his work. He moved permanently to Toronto and during the period from 1972 through 1974, in Toronto, he developed a technique of applying paint with a broad spreading device attached to a movable support having also been influenced by the American painter Morris Louis.
Drapell began his formal career as an artist when he was 28 and has participated in numerous exhibitions. In 1968 Drapell designed and built a public sculpture titled Life in Halifax.
- Carpenter, Ken. "Joseph Drapell". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2012-06-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
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