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Harold Town (1924-1990)

Harold Town (1924-1990)


Regular price $3,762.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $3,762.00 USD
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“Untitled” 1956

Monotype, Single Autographic Original Print

16” x 20” Image

Provenance: Private Collection in Hamilton, Ontario; Private Collection in London, Ontario



Between 1953 and 1959, Harold Town developed a revolutionary technique and theory of print-making in a modern age. Rather than create multiple editions of the same image, each print was designed and produced specifically as a singularly unique work. This monotype technique was affectionately dubbed by the artist, “single autographic” print making, which was influenced by Town's desire to create unique artworks as an extension of himself. These works were first showcased with Douglas Duncan and quickly purchased by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Toronto. The National Gallery of Canada also selected Town's autographic prints to represent Canada at the 1956 Venice Biennale alongside works by Jack Shadbolt and Louis Archambault.

The process of creating these works was crucial to Town's theory of print making and his commitment to producing singularly unique artworks. A lithographic stone was inked and printed with subsequent stencils and inked paper cut-outs to create layers of abstract patterns. Masking off areas of negative space with more stencils and cut outs, additional layers of the image were printed, developing richer image layers. Between each pull, Town waited for inks to dry completely, often waiting full days for a layer to dry. This time allowed the artist to subsequently develop several autographic prints in parallel. This process of layered complex shapes also allowed for accidentally suggestive or referential forms and imagery to emerge. Further developing his technique, Town would also incorporate found objects like string, wire and fabrics to impress into the surface of the artwork. No doubt, the influence of collage and assemblage developed through Cubism, Dada and Surrealism also had a role to play in the imagery of these works.

On Town's procedure and technique, Gerta Moray writes that “this method of generating images challenged Town to think beyond his facility with the paintbrush.” Vibrant with colour and complex with multiple facets of imagery, “Take Off” is an example of this important period in Town's career and a token of the development of abstract art in Canada.


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