Reflected Nude, 1972
watercolour on paper
30" x 22"
Donated by Irwin Hobden
Irwin Crosthwait is an internationally renown Canadian artist who began his career as an official WWII Canadian Naval war artist. He was Lieutenant, Special Branch and sailed aboard the HMCS Ontario in 1945 and aboard the HMCS Warrior in 1946 where he painted his most dramatic naval work from all parts of the world. His art captured both battles and the day to day working life of Canada's Navy. Much of his work from this period is housed in Canada's National War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.
He went on to become one of the world's top fashion illustrators and was later part of the "School of Paris" Tachisme abstract expressionism movement where he exhibited with the like of Poliakoff, Hartung, de Stael, Jacobson, Leger and Picasso. His friend and contemporary Victor Vasarely praised him by saying, "He is a painter with force, imagination, taste and individuality". All were deeply entrenched in the postwar abstract period.
Born June 24th, 1914 in Creston British Columbia, Crosthwait studied in Montreal's Sir George William College before attending the Pratt Institute in New York City. He won Canada's most prestigious and longest running top Canadian Art award in 1944, the Jessie Dow Award. This award is for those considered to be significant in their time and this benchmark prize is considered to serve as a guide to collectors who seek quality in Canadian Art. Following the war Crosthwait moved to Paris where he owned a studio in Paris's Montmartre district.
While in Paris creative talents mushroomed and soon he was designing sets for the Paris Ballet for the likes of de Basile and David Lichine. He worked for Harper's Bazaar publications for over fifteen years as their fashion illustrator, as well as working for the Morgan Company in Montreal. His fashion sketches graced the pages of Harper's Bazaar magazine with every new season's collection. His works are distinctive for his energetic yet delicate rendering of the model and the clothes.
Crosthwait lived and worked in numerous European cities where he had many one-man shows exposing first in the Salons of Paris. His works are found in both public and private collections throughout the world. He showed in top Galleries such as O'Hana and Hanover Galleries in London and countless others in Rome, Milan, Zurich, New York, Boston, Germany, Montreal and Greece. Crosthwait spent his later years living and working in Caracas Venezuela where his one man show at the Galeria de Arte Felix won rave reviews by top French critic Pirre Gueguen and the Journal of Paris.
Irwin Leyland Crosthwait died in Montreal in September of 1981 at the age of 67. Wherever he exhibited he was insistent that he be known as a "Canadian Artist", his devotion to his country was undying. He'd organized a hockey team in Paris that consisted of other ex-pat Canadians who share his passion for hockey.
Crosthwait's mind is no ordinary mind, no ordinary vision, his paintings are a state of mind, a wild flight of fancy into a world which we cannot see, but which he knows is there behind the facade of the modern world. As for colour, one hasn't seen colour until he has been struck full face by Crosthwait's intense reds, blues and greens.