Colville, Alex

Alex Colville (Canadian 1920-2013)
Study for ‘At Grand Pré, 1982
Ink and acrylic on board
30 x 21.3 cm / 11 13/16 x 8 3/8 in.
signed “Alex Colville 82”, upper right and  dated on margin: 14 Oct. 82


Colville bio

David Alexander Colville was born in Toronto in 1920 and moved with his family to Amherst, Nova Scotia, in 1929. After his studies at Mount Allison University, he served in the army from 1942 to 1946 and was sent to Europe as a war artist.  After the end of World War II, he returned to Mount Allison to teach. By the 1950s, Colville increasingly received international recognition for his art. He exhibited in New York, and the National Gallery of Canada started collecting his works. In 1963, he resigned from his teaching position at Mount Allison in order to devote himself entirely to painting. In 1966 Colville represented Canada at the Venice Biennale; he was a guest professor at the University of California in 1967, and in 1971 spent 6 months in Berlin as an artist-in-residence. Colville was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982. The Art Gallery of Ontario held a major retrospective of his work in 1983, which toured Canada, Europe and East Asia. Solo shows followed at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1994, and at the National Gallery of Canada in 2000, marking his 80th birthday. Colville received a Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003. He died in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in 2013.

In his paintings Colville places figures, animals or objects, often from his in his immediate surroundings, in unsettling juxtapositions. His art has been associated with Magical Realism and most of his works contain an underlying anxiety.