Campus Life

Lasting Images - Alex Colville

Alex Colville was born in Toronto in 1920, and received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Mount Allison University in 1942.

Colville enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces under the War Artist Program and was deployed to Europe for four years. During this time he became one of Canada's most prominent war artists, and painted troops landing at Juno Beach on D-Day.

Alex Colville, Snow Plough, 1967. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of Canaccord Capital Corporation, 1995.

After the war, Colville returned to Mount Allison as an instructor in fine arts until 1963, when he left teaching to devote himself to his painting and printmaking practice full time.

Colville's paintings and prints have been extensively exhibited and collected across Canada and internationally. His work has appeared on the Canadian centennial commemorative coin set and as part of Canada Post's Masterpieces of Canadian Art series of stamps. He works and lives in Wolfville, N.S.

Alex Colville, September (from Book of Hours, Labours of the Month), 1978. From the University of Lethbridge Art Collection. Gift of Hon. John Roberts, 1993.

Colville's photo-realist works have been linked to the American Precisionists of the 1930s. His process begins with extensive series of sketches, which he utilizes to craft exacting and precise compositions. The paintings and prints are created through the layering of many points of colour, resulting in complex renderings of space and light reminiscent of European Impressionism. Colville's subject matter is generally the human or animal form in mundane settings, with great attention paid to moments of stasis or fragmented movement.

This story first appeared in the December 2012 issue of the Legend. For a look at the entire issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.