A Snowy New Year: William Kurelek

kurelek-balsam-ave-toronto-after-heavy-snowfall1Happy New Year everyone. I’m looking forward to exploring more Canadian art with you this year, starting with William Kurelek, one of my Top 5 favorite artists.  The bitter cold and snow that enveloped the country through the holidays made me think of his exuberant winter scenes. (Above: Balsam Avenue After Heavy Snowfall, 1972)


The guys with snowblowers – and children headed for the snowbanks – have been out in force, communing with winter in my neighborhood these last few weeks, reminding us there can be fun and camaraderie even in the bone-chilling cold. Kurelek, who grew up on the prairies, captures how it’s done. (Top of post: Balsam Avenue After Heavy Snowfall, 1972 / Above: Fox and Geese, 1973)

Kurelek1- Eskimo-children-playing-Cape-DorsetEskimo Children Playing – Cape Dorset, 1968 (click on any image to go to original source)

kurelek-prairie-children-building-a-snow-fortPrairie Children Building a Snow Fort, 1975


King of the Mountain, 1973

Kurelek-HeavySnowfallonBalsamAvenue2Heavy Snowfall on Balsam Avenue – Looking the Other Way, 1972

These paintings are a tiny portion of Kurelek’s body of work. He was remarkable and troubled, a major force in Canadian art who produced some of the country’s most iconic modern works.  See a short overview biography, here.  Then if you want more, dive into the superb online version of a major exhibit of his life and works, here.

There are 24 comments

  1. suzannetevlin

    Well, this is a lovely New Year’s post. It’s nice to see poor old Bill Kurelek thinking pleasant thoughts. He was a troubled man, but not always. I remember him dropping by OCA when I was still a student. Let’s hope that there is a healthy & happy 2014 waiting just around the corner for all of us.

    1. boomerontario

      I so agree with how he jack-knifed between stable artistry and bleak despair. I was blown away with his dark works in The Messenger exhibit, because I really only had known his Prairie Parable series, his book illustrations and his other, brighter works. But you know, the dark stuff is far, far more powerful and I could have stood in front of it for hours.

  2. anngrafics

    I really like this stuff – very playful, childlike. Does he/did he illustrate children’s books ever? The first one and last one make me want to move into the neighborhood and live on one of those streets.

    1. boomerontario

      He did indeed do books – the most famous called A Prairie Boy’s Winter, but lots of others too. http://bit.ly/1cJzIsS I did live on one of those streets – although not as well-heeled as Balsam Avenue. It’s in the Beach district of Toronto, where I landed when I first came to Toronto as a young reporter. Beautiful area, even in winter.

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