Harold Town; Painter Set New Path for Canadian Art

Associated Press

Abstract artist Harold Town, a founding member of Painters Eleven, a group of 1950s modernists who marked a new direction for art in Canada and brought Canadian painting into the international mainstream, has died. He was 66.

Town, who had been battling cancer, died Thursday at his farm near Peterborough, authorities said.

A graduate of Ontario College of Art, Town for a while dropped painting altogether, after working on 40 canvases at a time, and turned to lithography, drawing, collage, etching and sculpture.

For years, he was unsuccessful at selling his abstract work, which was received with contempt and shock by a conservative art community.


By the late 1950s, he was emerging as a name artist in the national and international art circuit.

Painters Eleven had its first exhibition in 1954. It drew large crowds and served as a springboard for the artists involved.

Town created a stir with his articulate, witty and outrageous personality as much as with his art.

He lampooned other artists, picketed against pop art, marketed one of his paintings as a jigsaw puzzle, and illustrated books that sold for $150 a copy.