Harold Barling Town

  Harold Barling Town, artist, occasional writer, media personality (b at Toronto, Ont 13 Jun 1924; d near Peterborough, Ont, 27 Dec 1990). Town studied at Central Technical School and the Ontario College of Art and then worked as an illustrator for Maclean's and Mayfair. He was an outspoken member of PAINTERS ELEVEN (1953-1960), largely responsible for the name of the group and the forewords to their catalogue exhibitions.

Town gained international recognition for his technically inventive "single autographic prints" which he made from 1953 to 1959. They won awards in Ljubljana (Yugoslavia) and Santiago (Chile), were acquired by the Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (both New York City), and led Alfred Barr of the latter museum to consider Town one of the world's greatest printmakers.

In the 1950s and early 1960s Town's work reflected his interest in de Kooning, Picasso and the Asian art he saw in the Royal Ontario Museum. His highly inventive collages provided an antidote to such influences. Town represented Canada at the Venice Biennale (1956, 1964) and the São Paolo Bienal (1957, 1961), was shown in Dokumenta (1964) and was acclaimed by such writers as Robert FULFORD and Alan Jarvis as one of Canada's most important artists.

Thereafter, Town was influenced by fashionable tendencies like Pop Art, Op Art and assemblage and became increasingly whimsical, as in the Muscelmen series and the Toy Horses series. His later work was faulted by critics like Nathan Cohen and Paul Duval for mere facility and insufficient seriousness, but Town maintained that "all criticism of the visual art is suspect."

Town had retrospective exhibitions organized by the Windsor Art Gallery (1975) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (1986).