Robert Fulford: Alex Colville’s paintings transcended the art world to become emblems of national consciousness

I feel as if I knew this artist. I am the opposite star sign to him and know his son Graham.

National Post | Full Comment

For more than half a century, the paintings of Alex Colville soared triumphantly above the usual confines of the art world, establishing themselves as the possession of all Canadians, emblems of national consciousness. When he died on Tuesday, at 92, he left behind a country whose collective imagination he had enriched.

Colville’s images appeared across the country in magazines and on book covers, on coins and postcards. He was the first artist since the Group of Seven to become popular with a large public. The smaller world of art galleries and museums had its doubts, exhibiting his work but hedging its judgments, sometimes finding him old-fashioned, his art too carefully calculated, never spontaneous in the contemporary way.

The public, however, embraced him without reservation, perhaps partly because he worked with traditional Canadian images — rural scenes from near his home in Nova Scotia, farm animals, domestic work.

Later he moved…

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