Artwork by Ronald York Wilson,  October

York Wilson

oil on canvas
signed lower centre edge; titled on the stretcher
50 x 46 ins ( 127 x 116.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$10,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $8,000.00
Sale date: June 15th 2022

Acquired directly from the artist
By decent to the present Private Collection, New Hampshire
Kim Ness, “York Wilson: The Geometric Works 1966-1971”, McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, 1994, unpaginated
Produced between 1966 and 1971, Ronald York Wilson’s vibrant abstract geometric works are closely related to post-painterly abstraction and colour field painting. Inspired by a series of dreams, Wilson produced these striking non-objective works which have since become a hallmark of his abstract practice. Working in representational landscape and figural works earlier in his career, Wilson began experimenting with small sketches of more hard edge, boldly coloured abstract shapes. Layering geometric shapes created out of thick bands of colour, there is a collage-like quality to the works which radiates energy from the picture plane.

Kim Ness discusses these geometric works, explaining that they are “rhythmical in design, complex in the systemization of seemingly contradictory special depth and redolent with a distinctive atmosphere of the particular places or technological phenomena to which their titles refer.” The intentional layered striations of red, pink, yellow and olive contrast with a flat, black background in “October”, resulting in a dynamic and rich work full of warm energy. In his diaries, York Wilson remarked that after having two sequential dreams about these abstract paintings, he was consumed with this new practice and could paint nothing else for the next five years. The geometric works by York Wilson remain some of the most sought-after pieces by the artist and are included in the collections of the Government of Ontario at Queen’s Park, the Art Gallery of Algoma, University of Toronto Hart House, External Affairs, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico, Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Victoria, among many other university collections and private collections.

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Ronald York Wilson
(1907 - 1984) RCA, OSA

York Wilson studied commercial art at Central Technical School and first worked at Brigden's engraving house in Toronto (1926), where he was influenced by Charles Comfort and Will Ogilvie. Wilson was first recognized for paintings of the burlesque, such as those he exhibited with the Canadian Group of Painters at the World's Fair in New York (1939), and other social commentary pictures. He became a full-time painter in 1950. Trips to Mexico in 1950 and 1953 exposed him to the influence of Rico Lebrun and stimulated an interest in mural painting.

Wilson was best known for his commissioned murals, including those for McGill University's library (Montréal, 1954) and the Imperial Oil Building (Toronto, 1957). In the later 1950s, his interest in "picture construction" led him to abstract painting and then, in the 1960s, into geometric art.