Artwork by William Kurelek,  Tale of a Dog

William Kurelek
Tale of a Dog

mixed media on board
signed with monogram and dated 1975 lower right; titled and dated on the reverse
13.25 x 1.25 ins ( 33.7 x 3.2 cms )

Sold for $10,620.00
Sale date: May 28th 2019

A gift of the artist to the present owner, Brian Dedora, Toronto
Brian Dedora, With WK in the Workshop: A Memoir of William Kurelek, Toronto, 1989, reproduced page 39
Brian Dedora, author of “White Light”, “He Moved”, and What a City Was”, is a renowned writer and master framer who got his start at the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto. During his years with Isaacs, Brian worked closely with William Kurelek (the painter also getting his start at the celebrated Toronto gallery). A friendship grew between the two artists, Dedora the writer and Kurelek the painter.

Dedora’s 1989 book With WK in the Workshop: A Memoir of William Kurelek recounts his memories of the celebrated painter, within which he provides the story behind this charming painting, a gift from Kurelek:

“On my bench one morning was a painting one inch wide and thirteen inches tall, a gift from Bill. It was entitled ‘Tale of a Dog.’ The painting depicts a stand of trees in the background, a post in the middle ground, and in the foreground, walking off to the left, the hindquarters of a dog with a large tail. It is a snow scene. The painting has three levels of meaning and humour: the TAIL of the dog – we actually see it; the TALE of the dog as he wanders from the stand of trees, his footprints in the snow, to the post in the middle ground where the dog has done its duty; there’s also the reason the painting is one inch wide and thirteen inches tall – the painting itself is the tale of a dog job, a dog job being any job that didn’t go well. In this case, Bill had mis-measured the painting, made a frame only to find the painting one inch too large. Practical as ever, he sawed the one inch off.”

This artwork has remained in the collection of Brian Dedora until this offering and we extend our thanks to Brian for providing details related to this artwork.

Link: Brian Dedora presents “Tale of a Dog”:

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William Kurelek
(1927 - 1977) RCA

Kurelek was the son of Ukrainian immigrant farmers. He grew up during the Great Depression on a grain farm in Alberta and then a dairy farm in Manitoba. His hard-working father thought that his son was lazy and was not pleased when he decided to pursue his studies in art. His father's rejection was to haunt him all of his life. Kurelek briefly studied art at school but preferred to teach himself through books. While traveling in England he was hospitalized for over a year and enrolled in the hospital's art therapy program. It was there that he drew many self-portraits and scenes of farm life from his youth. He also developed his unique style of outlining the drawing with a ballpoint pen, using coloured pencils for texture and adding details in pen. Careful examination of his drawings reveals images full of realism with minute details of things like cots, clothes and even insects. Under the pen of William Kurelek, prairie farm scenes and landscapes came to life. By the time of his death in 1977 Kurelek had produced over 2000 paintings. Many of Kurelek's painting were produced to accompany books for children. For these he won several awards including the New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Book Award for A Prairie Boy's Winter and Lumberjack, and the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians Illustrators Award for A Prairie Boy's Summer.