Alex Colville’s working life was very much in the public eye, from his first exhibitions in the 1950s until the touring retrospectives that capped his exhibition career in the 1990s and 2000s. He never retired, but worked on new paintings well into his eighties. As a result, there is a large amount of material on his work and life—articles, books, reviews, films, and more. What follows is an introduction to the sources and resources available for this important Canadian artist.



Major Exhibitions


Art Canada Institute, Alex Colville, Installation view of the Alex Colville exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in 2014
Installation view of the Alex Colville exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in 2014, photograph by Dean Tomlinson.



November, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John. First solo exhibition in a public gallery.


Hewitt Gallery, New York. First solo commercial exhibition.


33rd Venice Biennale; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Hart House Gallery, University of Toronto.


Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Toured Canada and Germany.


March 29–May 16, Selected Drawings, Owens Art Gallery, Sackville. Toured Canada.


September 30, 1994–January 15, 1995, Alex Colville: Paintings, Prints, and Processes 1983–1994, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.


June 23–September 17, Milestones, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.


September 27–November 30, 2003, Alex Colville: Return, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax. Toured December 20, 2003–February 29, 2004, to Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton; March 20–May 31, 2004, Museum London; June 20–August 8, 2004, University of Toronto Art Centre; August 27–October 17, 2004, Edmonton Art Gallery; and November 2004–January 2005, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon.


August 23, 2014–January 4, 2015, Alex Colville, Art Gallery of Ontario. Toured April 24 – September 7, 2015, to National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.



Writings by Alex Colville

Art Canada Institute, Alex Colville, Cover of Alex Colville: Diary of a War Artist, eds. Graham Metson and Cheryl Lean.
Cover of Alex Colville: Diary of a War Artist, eds. Graham Metson and Cheryl Lean. (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 1981), featuring Alex Colville’s watercolour drawing Dead City, 24 Feb.–2 Mar. 1945 (detail), 1945.

Colville, Alex. Diary of a War Artist. Compiled by Graham Metson and Cheryl Lean. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 1981.


———. “My Experience as a Painter and Some General Views of Art.” Address given at New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, 1951. Reprinted in Helen J. Dow, The Art of Alex Colville, 203–08. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972.


———. Statement in exhibition catalogue Statements: 18 Canadian Artists, 34–37. Regina: Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, 1967.


———. Statement on centennial coins in press release. Ottawa: Department of Finance, April 20, 1966.


———. “A Tribute to Professor George P. Grant.” In By Loving Our Own: George Grant and the Legacy of Lament for a Nation, edited by Peter C. Emberley, 3–10. Ottawa: Carleton University Press: 1990.



Interviews (Print and Television)

“At Home With Alex Colville.” Telescope. CBC Television, September 21, 1967.


DeMont, John. “The Art of Being There.” Maclean’s, December 22, 2003, 46.


Frum, Barabara. The National. CBC Television, 1983.


Gregg, Andrew. Studio: The Life and Times of Alex Colville. Toronto, 90th Parallel Film and Television Productions Ltd., 2001. Betacam SP, 42 min.


Hutchinson, Don. Alex Colville: The Splendour of Order. Montreal: Gynus-Minerva Films and Film Arts, 1984. VHS, 57 min.


Schultz, Andreas. Colville. Berlin: Andreas Schulz, 2010.



Books, Catalogues, and Critical Writing about Alex Colville

Art Canada Institute, Alex Colville, Cover of Maclean’s magazine featuring “The World of Alex Colville,” August 1, 1983
Cover of Maclean’s magazine featuring “The World of Alex Colville,” August 1, 1983. Rogers Media Inc.

Baele, Nancy. “Alex Colville. The Artist as Autobiographer.” Ottawa Citizen, July 23, 1983, 27.


Burnett, David. Colville. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart / Art Gallery of Ontario, 1983.


Cheetham, Mark. Alex Colville: The Observer Observed. Toronto: ECW Press, 1994.


———. “The World, the Work, and the Artist: Alex Colville and the Communality of Vision.” RACAR: Revue d’art canadienne / Canadian Art Review 15, no. 1 (1988): 58–63.


DeMont, John. “Alex Colville’s Terrible Beauty: Menace Lurks in the Paintings of a Master.” Maclean’s, October 10, 1994, 60.


Dow, Helen J. The Art of Alex Colville. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1972.


Fry, Philip. Alex Colville: Paintings, Prints, and Processes, 1983–1994. Montreal: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1994.


Fulford, Robert. “Painter Laureate.” Saturday Night, July 1983, 5–6.


———. “Regarding Alex Colville.” Saturday Night, June 17, 2000.


Fulford, Robert, Wieland Schmied, Andreas Schultz, and Cyril Welch. Colville Tributes. Kentville, N.S.: Gaspereau Press, 2011.


Goddard, Peter. “Creating a Colville: A New Exhibition of His Recent Work Provokes Questions about Canadian Legend’s Artistic Process.” Toronto Star, June 13, 2004.


Art Canada Institute, Alex Colville, Cover of Alex Colville: Return
Cover of Alex Colville: Return, by Tom Smart (Douglas & McIntyre, 2003), featuring Alex Colville’s painting On a River, 1996.

Hammock, Virgil. “Alex Colville: La perfection dans le réalisme / Alex Colville: Perfection and Reality.” Montreal: Vie des arts 21, no. 84 (1976): 14–89.


Howes, David. “Picturing the Constitution: Sociology of the Art of Alex Colville and Norman Rockwell.” American Review of Canadian Studies 21, no. 4 (Winter 1991): 383–408.


Hunter, Andrew. Colville. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario; Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2014.


Kelley, Gemey. Alex Colville: Selected Drawings. Sackville N.B.: Anchorage Press, 1993.


Kemp, Martin. “A Measured Approach.” Nature 430, no. 7003 (August 26, 2004): 969.


Kulyk Keefer, Janice. “War Gaze Canvas of War, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.” Border Crossings 22, no. 2(May 2003): 66–72.


Meyers, Jeffrey. “Dangerously Real.” Modern Painters 13, no. 3 (Autumn 2000): 94–97.


Richer, Shawna. “Colville’s Unspoken Truths.” The Globe and Mail, Toronto edition, November 4, 2003.


Smart, Tom. Alex Colville: Return. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, Halifax, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; 2003.


Stewart, Walter. “Alex Colville: Realist Painter.” Atlantic Advocate, November 1976, 10.


Werner, Hans. “Nothing Phoney.” Canadian Art 4, no. 3 (Fall 1987): 70–77.





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