1926 (Stratford, Ontario, Canada)
1998 (Barrie, Ontario, Canada)
Ontario/New York / Canada
Often Known For
abstract expressionist painting
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Founder of a group called Painters Eleven in Canada, William Ronald was
born in Stratford and raised in Fergus and Brampton. He also did
a series of portraits in Abstract Expressionist style of Prime
Ministers including Pierre Trudeau. Upon graduation from the
Ontario College of Art, where he was a hockey player,William Ronald
went directly to New York to study for six months with Abstract
Hofmann, having won a $1,000.00 scholarship from the Canadian Amateur
Living in the 'big city' was a heady experience for Ronald, whose
residence was on 2nd Avenue in a noisy, Jewish neighborhood "Of street
vendors, delicatessens and clothing stores". He took advantage of
the cultural offerings and, leaving for Canada, he determined to return
to New York.
In Ontario, he became a display artist for a home furnishings store,
and involved 10 artists like himself in an abstract expressionist
exhibition held February 1954. The group became known as Painters
Eleven and included himself plus Alexandra Luke, Harold Town, Oscar
Cahen, Kazuo Nakamura, Jack Bush, Hortense Gordon, Walter Yarwood, Ray
Mead, Tom Hodgson and Jock Macdonald. Their work was described as
"aggressive and challenging".
After this first exhibition of Painters Eleven, Ronald moved back to
New York City where in April, 1956, the Painters Eleven exhibited at
the Riverside Museum at the 20th Anniversary of American Abstract
Artists because of contacts made by Ronald. In turn, he had a
solo exhibition in November 1959 in Toronto at the Greenwich
Gallery. Also, he began selling paintings to major collectors
including Countess Ingeborg de Beausac who threw a large party to
feature her acquisition of one of Ronald's paintings. Dealer
Samuel Kootz was a guest, and subsequently represented the
artist. William Ronald's first solo exhibition opened in April,
1957 in New
York, and he received positive reviews as well as reinforcement from
leading Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Franz Kline.
For seven years, he produced 18 canvases a year for Samuel Kootz, but
Kootz then terminated the relationship, which was a major shock to
Ronald who by that time, had settled his studio in New Jersey.
Sensing correctly that the Abstract Expressionism was running its
course, William Ronald moved back to Toronto and did painting that
combined Abstraction and Surrealism.
However, to make a living he became a television broadcaster, working
for CBC-TV and then CBC-FM. But he continued painting, which
included a large mural for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in
1968. He had museum exhibitions and gallery shows, and did his
series of 16 images, called The Prime Ministers of Canada.
They were featured in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario with
the host being Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.
William Ronald died in 1998, having suffered much heart trouble and
arthritis in his later years. However, he seemed to find much
enjoyment in his later years. A description of him is that: ". .
. the outrageousness, the wildness, the outspokenness, the vitality and
fun of William Ronald are still there. He has recently purchased
a used Rolls Royce, metallic sand with dark green leather
upholstery. His two comely female assistants drive him around
because he hasn't driven for 12 years. He rides in the back seat
behind dark sunglasses enjoying his celebrity."
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