Most remember Harold Town for his larger than life paintings and quick wit. Many people, however, were not aware of Town’s vast knowledge of art history and world cultures. Town’s favourite place for learning was the Far East department at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. His fabulous imagination and creative forces were often stirred by the historical artifacts at the museum. As art historian David Silcox has noted “Town’s creative mind was never short of creating grand ideas, heroic gestures and intimate secrets in his work. Town had never devoted himself exclusively to abstraction, this was one of the most striking qualities of his career. Town had the ability to work simultaneously in three or four different styles and media.”1 We see the artist’s creative and technical virtuosity in the legacy that he left to Canada, in his collages, drawings, paintings, mixed media constructions and autographic prints.
Harold Town, Musclewoman, 1983,
oil on canvas, 25 in. x 20 in.,
signed, titled and dated verso.
Provenance: Estate of Harold Town
Harold Town’s “Muscleman Series”, reproduced above, perhaps responded to the new ideas of figurative painting in the early 1980’s. As David Burnett noted in his essay for the Town exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1986, “The Musclemen are, in a way, curious icons of our time, richly painted displays of display calling upon the traditions of figure painting and of ideal beauty, but splitting physical and intellectual perfection apart and, using the rest of their bodies for competitive entertainment – the individual as a commodity.”2 In this fantastic series by Town, the ideas of physical perfection and intellectual awareness are explored through the marvellously colourful and witty representation of the human figure through the sport of body building.
James Rottman Fine Art carries a significant inventory of historical artworks by Harold Town. Do not hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding this artwork or other works by Harold Town.
Magnificent Decade, Harold Town: 1955 – 1965, David Silcox, pages 9, 10.
Town, Art Gallery of Ontario, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, David Burnett,.Toronto, pg. 193