Alex Colville, who died at 92 this past July, had a long and fruitful association with Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.
Colville earned his BFA in visual arts there in 1942, and then, four years later, he became an instructor in the fine arts department, staying until 1963. So it’s fitting that Owens Art Gallery at Mount Allison is receiving a set of all 35 silkscreen prints that Colville completed during his lifetime.
The major gift to his alma mater was arranged by daughter/dealer Ann Kitz at the behest of the famous magic realist painter, to honour the memory of his wife, Rhoda, who died at 91 last December.
As someone who made his living from his art, Colville “didn’t keep much of his work,” notes Owens director Gemey Kelly. With the serigraphs, he’d hold onto an artist’s proof or one print from editions that, by the mid-1970s, were numbering 70 per image, then sell the rest.
The prints – from the oldest, After Swimming (1955), to the last, Willow (2002) – are being unveiled at the gallery on Nov. 2. Colville’s print production was sporadic, but for Kelly, “they’re a beautiful representation of his whole career, stylistically and in terms of subject matter.” In taking the gift, the gallery is claiming it’s the only public institution with the complete set of Colville prints in its permanent collection.