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Collier, Alan Caswell
Cut-Bank Pattern, near Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
1961

Each year, Alan Collier gave his son two of his best landscape oil sketches as a record of his own development. The Ian M Collier Collection spans the artist’s career from 1947 to 1989 and represents every province and (at the time) territory. Many were painted ‘on the spot’ during the artist’s annual cross-Canada trips, taken by car and camping trailer, for three months at a time, with his wife Ruth and son Ian. While in the past artists relied on rails to access the country, Collier was Canada’s first committed landscape-by-car artist. He described himself as “a long-time believer in the Canadian landscape,” as something worthy of painting, experiencing and protecting. He approached it from a unique perspective. Not only did he train at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and New York’s Art Students League, he had, in the first decades of his adult life, worked as a labourer on the land: in a BC relief camp constructing national roads and in northern Ontario gold mines extracting resources. As an artist, Collier was dedicated to landscape painting at a time when other forms of artmaking dominated Canada’s cultural stage and its record. Though Collier, in later works of the Collection, skirts abstraction, he never embraces it. The views before him become distilled into the elements of art, but always retaining a sense of place, carefully documented verso. A return to Collier’s work necessitates a re-evaluation of the place of landscape in Canadian art.

 
Collier, Alan Caswell
Toronto ON 1911-Toronto ON 1990
Cut-Bank Pattern, near Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
1961
Oil on board
30.4 x 40.5 cm
The Ian M Collier Collection, Gift of Ian Collier, 2016
59-017.31

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