Harold Barling Town

1924 - 1990

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Biography

Harold Town (1924-1990 Peterborough, Ontario) was one of Canada ’s most prolific and versatile artists. His vast body of work comprises paintings, etchings, lithographs, collages, drawings and works in other media.

During his lifetime, his work was shown at major galleries and international exhibitions in North and South America and in Europe.

He was a founding member of Painters Eleven, the name of the group which was based simply on the number of artists that were present the first meeting. This group of artists helped to introduce Canadians to abstract art in the 1950’s.

Throughout his career he remained a focus of controversy for his original artwork, flamboyant public persona and outspoken opinions.

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 and Town represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1956 and 1964 and at the São Paolo Bienal in 1957 and 1961.

Known as an "unpredictable" painter, Town's work moved quickly from a dark expressionist style to abstraction which contrasted vivid colours. In the 1960s, Town developed a style of prints which he called "Single Autograph Prints", a phrase he never explained. These monotype prints were colourful and delicate, winning Town awards in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia and Santiago, Chile, were the prints were acquired by the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  Alfred Barr the director of MoMA at the time called Town "one of the world's greatest printmakers."

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

1956    Single Autographic Prints. Harold Town, Picture Loan Society, Toronto, ON
1957    Autographic Prints by Harold Town, Galerie L'Actuelle, Montreal, QC
1958    Two Canadian Painters: Paul-Emile Borduas and Harold Town, Arthur Tooth and Sons Ltd., London, England
1960    Harold Town: collages, paintings, prints, drawings, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK
1960    Salon d'automne: Nakamura and Harold Town, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC
1962    Harold Town, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, ON
1963    Town: An Exhibition of Recent Paintings of the Theme of "The Tyranny of the Corner", New Jersey Museum of the Arts, New Jersey, NY, USA
1964    XXXII Biennale de Venezia: Harold Town and Elza Mayhew, Venice, Italy
1964    Thirteen Paintings by Harold Town, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1966    Harold Town: Drawings and Prints, Macdonald Institute, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
1966    Exhibition of Autographic Prints and Drawings in Brush, Pen and Ink, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, ON
1967    Harold Town Paintings, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
1967    Exhibition of Autographic Prints, Hart House, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
1967    Jean McEwen and Harold Town, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
1969    Harold Town: Enigmas, Hart House, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
1970    Retrospective Drawing Exhibition, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON
1971    French Postcard Set - Girl on a Bicycle, Fleet Galleries, Winnipeg, MB
1971    Harold Town: Prints, Sarnia Public Library, Sarnia, ON
1971    Silent Stars, Sound Stars, Film Stars, Rothman's Art Gallery, Stratford, ON
1972    Harold Town - A Selection, Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg, ON
1973     Harold Town: The First Exhibition of New Work 1969-1973, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON; London Public Library and Art Museum, London, ON; Rodman Hall Art Center, St. Catharines, ON; Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, ON; curator Kay Reid
1974    Harold Town: Lithographs and Serigraphs, Mazelow Gallery, Toronto, ON
1975    Indications: paintings, collage, drawings, prints, sculpture. Harold Town
1944-1975    Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, ON
1978    Harold Town. The Toy Horse. Works on Paper, Waddington Galleries, Montreal, QC
1979    Vale Variations, Robertson Galleries, Ottawa, ON
1980    Poets and Other People: Drawings by Harold Town, Art Gallery of Windsor,     Windsor, ON
1981    Harold Town: Recent Paintings, Theo Waddington Galleries, Toronto, ON
1982    Portrait Drawings by Harold Town, Robertson Galleries, Ottawa, ON
1986    Harold Town: A Retrospective, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
1997    Harold Town: Magnificent Decade 1955-1965, Moore Gallery, Toronto, ON
2013     Harold Town: Selected New Works, Wallace Galleries, Calgary, AB
2016    Harold Barling Town, Wallace Galleries, Calgary, AB

SELECTED AWARDS

1957    Arno Prize, Sao Paulo Biennale
1957    Second International Exhibition of Drawings and Prints, Yugoslavia
1958    Canada Council Purchase Prize
1958    International Exhibition of Drawing and Prints, Lugano, Switzerland
1960     Guggenheim International Award, Honourable Mention, Canada
1966    Honorary Doctorate, York University
1967    Centennial Medal
1968    Officer, Order of Canada

SELECTED MEMBERSHIPS

Canadian Group of Painters
Canadian Society of Graphic Art
Ontario Society of Artists
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers

SELECTED PUBLIC COMMISSIONS

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, AB
Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, NB
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, ON
Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, ON
Tate Gallery, London, England
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK
Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC

Artist

Harold Barling Town

OC, RCA
1924 - 1990
Price range: $1500-$110,000