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Jack Leonard Shadbolt

 (1909 - 1998)
Jack Leonard Shadbolt was active/lived in British Columbia / Canada, England.  Jack Shadbolt is known for abstract painting, printmaking, murals, graphics, illustration.

Jack Leonard Shadbolt

Biography from the Archives of askART

Jack Leonard Shadbolt was a painter, printmaker, muralist, graphic artist, illustrator, theatrical designer, author, poet and influential educator who was born in Shoeburyness, England.  In 1912, his family emigrated to Nelson, British Columbia, Canada.  In 1914 they moved to Victoria (B.C.) where he was raised.  He taught school in Duncan (near Victoria) from 1928 until 1931 when he moved to Vancouver (B.C.) where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.  He died in Burnaby (B.C.) a city in the greater Vancouver area.
He worked in many mediums including oil, acrylic, Lucite, watercolour, collage, casein, pastel, pencil, gouache, silkscreen (serigraph), lithograph, etching, charcoal, pen and ink and mixed mediums.  His subjects are social commentary, Northwest  Indians, genre, allegory, mythology, metaphor, religion, rituals, landscape, figures, nudes, cityscape, emotions, life cycles, butterflies, birds, still life, war (bombed buildings) and pure abstract.  His styles are Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, Lyrical Abstraction, Realism, Fauvism and Symbolism. His most distinctive works are painterly, recognized by bold colours, flat planes and, while all art is decorative, most of his works also have complexity and a serious overtone, provoking thought and emotion.

Quote: "Whatever other things art does, if it is to engage us deeply it must, as well, be an adventure of the mind." (Jack Shadbolt, 1968).
He studied at Victoria College (1925-27); the Provincial Normal School (Victoria/ 1929); at the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts * with Charles Scott (see AskART) and Frederick Varley (see AskART) (1933-36); he also took a summer course with William P. Weston (see AskART).  In Europe he studied at the Euston Road Art School ( London) with Victor Pasmore (see AskART) and  Sir William Coldstream (see AskART) (1937) and in Paris with Achille Emile Othon Friesz (see AskART) and Andre Lhote (see AskART) (1938). In New York he studied with Vaclav Vytlacil (see AskART) at the Art Students League (1948). Other stated influences are Picasso, Miro and Graham Sutherland.
Max Maynard (see AskART) introduced him to Emily Carr (see AskART) in 1930, which was the beginning of a friendship and a major influence on his work.
He has traveled extensively in the U.S.A. (1933); in France, Italy and Greece (1956 - 57); and in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal and India (1975-76).
His teaching career started in the British Columbia public school system where he taught in Duncan (1928-31) and at Kitsilano (Vancouver) High School (1931-37).  In 1938 he began teaching at the Vancouver School of Art where he worked until retirement in 1966.  He also taught at the San Francisco School of Art in the summer of 1953.  He's conducted workshops and seminars at the University of Manitoba School of Architecture, the University of Victoria; Western University, York University, Waterloo University and the Emma Lake Workshops (Saskatchewan) (1955).
Among his associates and friends were Lawren Harris (See AskART), Bill Reid (See AskART), Toni Onley (See AskART), Bruno Bobak (See AskART), Molly Bobak (See AskART), Arthur Erikson (famous architect), Joe Plaskett (See AskART), Gordon Smith (See AskART), B.C. Binning (See AskART), George Woodcock (author) and John Koerner (See AskART).
His memberships include the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Canadian Group of Painters, the British Columbia Society of Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour. He also served as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Army from 1942 - 45 and from 1944 to 1945 was an official war artist.
The 1932 Island (Vancouver Island) Arts and Crafts Society exhibition was his first group show.  His work has been in exhibitions almost every year since then.  Some of these are the Sao Paulo Biennale (1953); the Venice Biennale (1956); the Brussels World's Fair (1958); the Seattle World's Fair (1962); the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1955); the Tate, London (1964); the Guggenheim International, New York (1958); the International Water Color Exhibition, Brooklyn Museum (1959); the National Gallery of Canada Biennales (1955,57,59,61,65) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1947-68).  
In addition to showing with the above artist groups he has had over 60 solo exhibitions in venues that include the Vancouver Art Gallery (1936,38,48,53,59,78,80,84,91), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto/1950), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1954,61,80,88), the Seattle Art Museum (1958), the Edmonton Art Gallery (1961,64), the Burnaby Art Gallery (1967,96), the Glenbow Museum (1991), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1963), Museum London (Ontario/1968) and the National Gallery of Canada (1970). On the 100th year anniversary of his birth the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia have the show "Jack Shadbolt: Underpinnings"  (May 1 to August 23, 2009) and the Vancouver Art Gallery has "Two Visions: Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt" (May 30 to Sept 3, 2009).  
His works are in many private, corporate and public collections. Some of the public collections are the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art gallery of Greater Victoria, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), the Montreal Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), the Seattle Art Museum, the Tate (London, England), the Hirshhorn Collection of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington) and many more. An example of his mural work can be seen at the Edmonton International Airport.
Among his many honours and awards are the Order of Canada (OC) (1972), the Order of British Columbia (OBC) (1990), the Centennial Medal (1967); and honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University (Burnaby).  He has also received the Beatrice Stone Medal (1951), the Jessie Dow Memorial Award for Water Colour  (1953), the Guggenheim Award (1957), the Molson Prize (1977) and the Gershon Iskowitz Award (1990).  In 1989 he was made a Freeman of the City of Vancouver.  In 1995 the city of Burnaby dedicated The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts to honour Jack and Doris Shadbolt.
It should be noted that his wife, Doris (Meisel) Shadbolt (1918 - 2003), was a curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, art historian and author of The Art of Emily Carr (1979) and Bill Reid (1986).  She is also the recipient of the Order of Canada (1976) and the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts (2000).  She and her husband established the VIVA (Vancouver Institute for Visual Arts) awards in 1987 to encourage emerging artists in British Columbia.They are also co-founders with Bill Reid, and Gordon Smith of the Artists for Kids Trust (1989) which raises money for art education in schools.
As a very prominent artist his work has been discussed in numerous magazine and newspaper articles. He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; in "The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; in The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985), Hurtig Publishers; in the 1999 and 2006 versions of E. Benezit, published by Grund; in the Encyclopedia of British Columbia (2000); in Jaques Cattell Press, Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition; in Falk's Who Was Who in American Art; and in Canadian Who's Who 1996, Volume XXX1, edited by Elizabeth Lumley.

His work is also illustrated and discussed in Art Gallery of Ontario - The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield; in Contemporary Canadian Art (1983), by David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff; Visions - Contemporary Art in Canada (1983), various authors and editors; The History of Painting in Canada - Toward A Peoples Art (1974) by Barry Lord; A Concise History of Canadian Painting (1973), by Dennis Reid; Great Canadian Painting - A Century of Art (1966), by Elizabeth Kilbourn; Four Decades (1972) by Paul Duval; Painting in Canada: A History (1966) by J. Russell Harper; Landmarks of Canadian Art (1978), by Peter Mellen; Contemporary Artists (1977), edited by Colin Naylor and Genesis P-Orridge; Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art" (1967), by R.H.Hubbard and J.R. Ostiguay; Enjoying Canadian Painting (1976), by Patricia Godsell; Contemporary Canadian Painting (1972), by William Withrow; The Best Contemporary Canadian Art (1987), by Joan Murray; Canadian Art Today" (1970), by William Townsend; in Cineplex Odeon(1989), by David Burnett; Modern Painting in Canada (1978), by Terry Fenton and Karen Wilkin; Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1968), by Frances K. Smith; Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 (2000), by Anne Newlands; Canadian Art - Its Origin and Development (1943), by William Colgate; Great Work - An Overview of Contemporary British Columbia Artists (1996), by Melanie Gold; The Development of Canadian Art (1964), by R.H.Hubbard; Vancouver Art and Artists 1931 - 1983 (1983), by Luke Rombout and various contributors; From Desolation to Splendour - Changing Perceptions of the British Columbia Landscape (1977), by Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole; The Nude in Canadian Painting (1972), by Jerrold Morris; Canadian Drawings and Prints" (1952), by Paul Duval; Art and Man - The Modern World (1964) by P.H.Brieger, G.S.Vickers and F.E.Winter; in Abstract Painting in Canada (2008), by Roald Nasgaard; in Canada and the Canadians (1970), by George Woodcock; British Columbia : A Centennial Anthology (1958), edited by Reginald E. Watters; Stones, Bones and Skin: Ritual and Shamanic Art (1974), by Anne Trueblood Brodzky; Hidden Values: Contemporary Canadian Art in Corporate Collections (1994), by Robert Swain; Canvas of War: Painting the Canadian Experience, 1914 to 1945 (2000), by Dean F. Oliver and Laura Brandon; Art BC: Masterworks from British Columbia (2000), by Ian M. Thom; in Art and Artist (1956), by Rico Lebrun and Alfred Frankenstein; and Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings (2007), by Anne Newlands.  There are also the two books by Scott Watson titled Jack Shadbolt (1990) and Jack Shadbolt Drawings (1984).
The three books authored by Jack Shadbolt are: In Search of Form (1968); Mind's I : Poems and Drawings (1973); and Act of Art (1981).
Some books illustrated or with cover art by Jack Shadbolt  are: Chicago: City on the Make (1961), by Nelson Green; Silt of Iron (1971), by Maria Fiamengo; and Latakia: A Novel (1979), by Audry Thomas.
* It became the Vancouver School of Art in 1937 and in 1995 the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Jack Leonard Shadbolt

Born:  1909 - Shoeburyness, Essex, England
Died:   1998 - Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Known for:  abstract painting, printmaking, murals, graphics, illustration