ALEX COLVILLE (Estate), 1920-2013


I don't intend to be menacing, but I do think of life as being essentially dangerous. We never know what's going to happen from one day to the next.

ALEX COLVILLE (1920-2013) tended to define what he found good in art by what he found that wasn't, namely, anything that was commercial, sentimental, or retrograde. Such art was, in his mind, simply bad. His paintings and prints, stretching over a career that spanned eight decades, were often popular, but never commercial. They were remarkable for their emotional depth and power, but never reduced to mere sentiment. And while they were unapologetically representational, only the most biased of critics would equate that with retrogression. Indeed, Colville's paintings were historically informed, rich with nuance and allusion, but still very much of his moment. They were unfailingly contemporary, reflections of a carefully thought out response to the world as he found it. And, of course, exceedingly good. They are also highly considered, philosophical as much as they are aesthetic.