Synopses & Reviews
Reta Cowley came to maturity as an artist in the late 1950s and early 1960s, at a time when abstraction was on the ascendant, and the Regina Five and the Painters Eleven were stars of the Canadian art scene. However, Cowley explored other directions, becoming a major contributor to the development of Canadian landscape painting after World War II. Reta Summers Cowley is the first book devoted solely to the life and work of this often overlooked prairie painter. Saskatchewan author Terry Fenton has drawn from both his personal acquaintance with the artist and his own long career in the arts to provide an in-depth look at Cowley’s contributions to Canadian art history. Known primarily as a watercolourist, Cowley is sometimes dismissed as a “hobby painter,” but she was a vital and influential part of the thriving arts community on the prairies for over three decades. Her inspiration came from the landscape around Saskatoon, and she painted primarily on location for her entire career. Reta Summers Cowley provides a critical analysis of Cowley’s work from the 1940s through the early 1990s, placing it in the context of the popular influences of the time and of modernist painting in general. Also included is a section titled “Cowley on Cowley,” which offers an uncensored glimpse of Cowley’s own thoughts on her work and practice through interviews, personal diary entries, and study notes.
Reta Cowley was a painter in step with changes taking place in her country. She began by painting in the British watercolor tradition and through a broadening influence developed her own artistic vision. Working primarily on location, Cowley painted the landscape around her home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and in 1964 received national recognition with a touring exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada. Many public and private exhibitions followed throughout the 1970s and 1980s, securing her reputation as a nationally recognized Canadian artist. Drawing upon a variety of source material, including reviews, exhibition catalogues, art history reference books, taped interviews, and even diary and journal entries, Fenton delivers a comprehensive picture of this influential prairie painter. With stunning color photography and a detailed biography, this book is an indispensable resource for collectors, galleries, libraries, museums, and art researchers interested in the diversity of Canadian art.
Reta Summers Cowley is the first book devoted solely to the life and work of this often overlooked prairie painter of the same name. Providing a critical analysis of Cowley’s work from the 1940s through the early 1990s, placing it in the context of the popular influences of the time and of modernist painting in general.
About the Author
Terry Fenton is a landscape painter, writer and art consultant who currently resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He is former Director of the Edmonton Art Gallery, the Leighton Foundation in Calgary, and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon.