Home » Underrated Canadian artist: Harold Town

Underrated Canadian artist: Harold Town

Harold Town. Image: swansea.ca


VoCA salutes curator Mia Nielsen for bringing the artist – and member of the Painters Eleven – back, with an exhibition of his work at the Drake Hotel, Toronto.

Beautiful Loser is up at the Drake from November 1, 2007 – 5 January, 2008 and will feature some of Harold Town’s early abstract paintings, collage works, intricate drawings and late sculptures.

Harold Town, Mechanical Forest Sound, oil on masonite, 1953. Image: farm1.static.flickr.com

Town represented Canada in two Venice Biennales and his works are held many collections, including those of the Tate, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

According to Neilsen, “Town captured the imagination of the Canadian people of what an artist could be – outrageously prolific with a flamboyant, theatrical personality.”

Harold Town, Untitled. Image: artnet.com

Harold Town, Snap #94, 1973-1974. Image: artnet.com

Drake Salon: A discussion of Town’s work will take place Thursday December 13 from 6pm to 8pm, with special guests David Silcox (president of Sotheby’s Canada) and David Moos (Curator of Contemporary Art, AGO).

To reserve a seat, please phone 416 670 9423.

Harold Town, Untitled, 1968. Government of Ontario Art Collection.
Image: archives.gov.on.ca

For more on Harold Town, please click HERE.

Read Robert Fulford’s essay on Town HERE.

9 Responses to “Underrated Canadian artist: Harold Town”

  1. meowsa says:

    I would like your next underrated Canadian artist to be a woman, please.

  2. Peggy G says:

    Excellent information, It is important for the young artists to see the works of Harold Town , as I believe he was the most diversely talented artist in Canadian history, he could do anything on any media with more style and perfection, he was a finisher. Name another artist like him…”no one” as he was to talented to copy.

  3. Andrea Carson says:

    Any suggestions for an underrated woman artist?

  4. Craig says:

    An artist that I feel should be given broader recognition in a future Underrated Canadian Artist post is Francoise Sullivan, who is – coincidentally – female. Her recent paintings were a revelation to me when I saw them in a collector’s home and I was amazed by the quality of her work. Or perhaps you might consider Alexandra Luke, a member of Painters Eleven who died in the 60s, I think, and whose work stands up very well against current painting trends (would a deceased artist be eligible for inclusion in an Underrated Canadian Artist post?).

    Having said that, I must say that I find the request to feature an artist just because she is female to be a bit, well, lame and offensive – not to mention how demeaning it would be to be the female artist who ends up being included just to satisfy some quota around gender balance. I think the artists chosen by VoCA as being underrated have all been valid and worthy – regardless of the fact that they may have been male. And meowsa, if you’re going to make a comment like yours, you should at least suggest an artist you feel warrants recognition.

    Thanks for everything VoCA is doing for Canada’s visual arts scene, Andrea!


    PS I agree with peggy g that Harold Town’s stuff is amazing. I love the Painters Eleven work; especially the work by Town, Ray Mead, Kazuo Nakamura and Alexandra Luke.

  5. Andrea Carson says:

    Thanks Craig!

    Yes deceased artists are fine – in fact Harold Town passed away in 1990. Francoise Sullivan is an excellent choice, particularly considering that Luis Jacob did something of an homage to her in the work that he showed at Documenta this summer. And I’ll look into Alexandra Luke…

  6. meowsa says:

    I don’t think it’s offensive to suggest that VOCA’s next underrated Canadian artist be female. We need to recognize the lack of recognition women receive in the art world and make an effort to realize these ommissions. (see Jerry Saltz’s recent article in New York magazine about the lack of women artists in large public collections.) I’d really like to see VOCA be a great forum for such discussions.

    I do have a few ideas about who might be good female underrated artists. But I’m not sure it’s incumbent upon me, your reader, to provide suggestions. Rather than hearing my own ideas repeated back to me, I’m more interested in hearing what VOCA has to say.

  7. Liav says:

    I literally yelped when I first saw the Towns in the Drake lobby, and was totally floored by the Snap series: so totally unlike his other abstracts.

    I’ve loved the painters 11 for years, along with Riopelle.

  8. Andrea Carson says:

    VoCA will give some thought to underrated female canadian artists to include in the future. But I think the next one might be Ron Kostyniuk…

  9. john says:

    Harold Town is a fox not a hedgehog as Peggy G explains :wonderfully diverse. How about Anne Kahane?

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