Some of my musings are driven by the accumulation of a number of books on the same subject or person(s). Such is the case this week. Two of the most celebrated artists in Newfoundland are the married couple Mary & Christopher Pratt. Their styles and subjects are quite different. I was showing a friend these books earlier today and one observation he made was that she painted objects that were inside a dwelling and Christopher did just the opposite. I think for the most part that is true. They are both realist painters. Here is a definition of realist painting - in its specific sense realism refers to a mid nineteenth century artistic movement characterised by subjects painted from everyday life in a naturalistic manner; however, the term is also generally used to describe artworks painted in a realistic almost photographic way. Mary is known for painting every day objects including food on the plate or in jars and meets the first part of the definition. Christopher’s paintings look like photographs and, hence, he meets the second part of the definition. His work is quite similar to that of Alex Colville. However, I personally find Christopher’s work a bit sterile, accurate but it lacks the tension that Colville is so superb at inflicting upon the viewer of his paintings.
I will address each artist in turn, showing photos of the covers of four of their books, followed by the publishing information, followed by two of their paintings, followed by my description of the artists that I placed on Abebooks when I listed their books for sale.
Mary Pratt; Introduction by Sandra Gwyn; Critical Essay by Gerta Moray; McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, Toronto, 1989.
Mary Pratt: A Personal Calligraphy; Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton, 2000.
Simple Bliss: The Paintings and Prints of Mary Pratt; MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, 2004.
Mary Pratt; Goose Lane Editions, Fredericton; The Rooms Art Gallery, St. John’s; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, 2013
From the Mary Pratt, 2013, book description:
Presentation copy signed by the artist. This book is the companion to the travelling exhibition of
works by Mary Pratt that will visit five galleries from 2013-2015. From the blurb - Luminescent
canvases form the visual focus of Mary Pratt, a career retrospective that examines every
perspective of Pratt’s unique creative journey. Pratt’s paintings including: Eggs in an Egg Crate,
Salmon on Saran, Eviscerated Chickens, Cod Fillets on Tin Foil, This is Donna have achieved
iconic status. This major volume, the first on Mary Pratt's work in almost twenty years, features
more than seventy-five reproductions of her most renowned works as well as essays by five of
Canada's finest art writers. Together, they create a conversation around Pratt's technique and
influences, examining the themes that weave through and around her art: the role of place and
personal biography, the passage of time, the very act of looking and, of course, the stuff of life.
This book, 160 pages measuring 227mm X 255mm, is in fine condition. The dust jacket is also
in fine condition, now in a protective mylar wrap. The study of an iconic Atlantic Canadian artist.
The Prints of Christopher Pratt: 1958-1991; Catalogue Raisonné; Essays by Jay Scott and Christopher Pratt; Breakwater Books, St. John’s with Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, 1991.
Christopher Pratt: Personal Reflections on a Life in Art; Introduction by David P. Silcox; Key Porter Books, Toronto, 1995.
Christopher Pratt: All My Own Work; Josée Drouin-Brisbois; with an Introduction by Jeffrey Spalding; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa in association with Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 2005.
Christopher Pratt: Six Decades; Tom Smart; Firefly Books, Richmond Hill with the Art Gallery of Sudbury, 2013.
From Christopher Pratt: All My Own Work, book description:
Signed by the author. From the blurb Christopher Pratt’s images from outport Newfoundland and Labrador both identify his place in the geography of the world and distinguish his paintings from those of other contemporary artists. Paradoxically, they also make him one of Canada's most universal painters, for even those with no prior knowledge of his distinctive locale are able to forge an immediate personal link with his haunting, piercing, symbolic images - David Silcox. Christopher Pratt is a Newfoundland icon, with family roots in the island extending back for hundreds of years, and a deep and abiding sense of his identity as a Newfoundlander. Based upon a major exhibition of recent work opening in Canada's National Gallery in late 2005 to honour his 70th birthday, this book presents Pratt’s sublimely modulated paintings from the past twenty years, with important early works including drawings adding context. The 85 superbly reproduced colour images do justice to his flawless technique and his ability to capture the ethereal light so particular to a Northern land. This large format book, 132 pages measuring 273mm X 296mm, is in fine condition in a fine dust jacket that is now enclosed in a protective mylar wrap. It would be impossible to find a better copy.