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 Dorothy Elsie Perehudoff Knowles  (1927 - )

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Lived/Active: Saskatchewan / Canada      Known for: modernist landscape painting

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Dorothy Elsie (Knowles) Perehudoff is primarily known as Dorothy Elsie Perehudoff Knowles

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dorothy Knowles (AKA: Dorothy Elsie Knowles, AKA: Dorothy Elsie Perehudoff Knowles, AKA: Dorothy Perehudoff) (1) is one of Canada’s most important landscape painters.  She was born in Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada and has lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan since 1944.

Her mediums are oil, acrylic, watercolor, charcoal and mixed mediums.  Her best known subjects are from the Canadian prairie landscape – fields, hills, forests, valleys, rivers, lakes, mountains, wildflowers and the big sky (2).  Her mature styles are Post- Impressionism*, Impressionism*, Plein Air* and Fauvism*.  AskART images have some excellent illustrations of her work.

Quote: “I grew up in the landscape, and I love it...the land that you grow up on is always in your psyche.” - Dorothy Knowles

She has a degree in biology from the University of Saskatchewan (1944 - 1948), and she worked briefly as a lab technician.  Her formal art education began in the summer of 1948 with a six week course at the Emma Lake Workshop* led by Reta Cowley (3) and Frederick James Finley.  Since then she has attended workshops there, lead by Joseph Plaskett (1956), Will Barnett (1957), Herman Cherry (1961), Clement Greenberg (1962), Kenneth Noland (1963), Jules Olitski (1964), Lawrence Alloway (1965), and Michael Steiner (1969).  She has also studied at the Goldsmith School of Art, London, England (1951); the University of Saskatchewan (1949 - 1952) under Eli Bornstein; and the Banff School of Arts (1952) (4).

Quote: “In an era of ‘high abstraction,’ one might still paint landscapes ambitiously and without embarrassment.” – Clement Greenberg

Her first one-person exhibition was in 1954 at the Saskatoon Art Centre followed by additional ones there in 1962 and 1963.  To date she has had over 40 solo shows.  Some of the public venues include the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1964, 1968, 1969, 1982, 1994); the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (1972, 1978, 1983); the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1982, 2001); and the Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (1991).  Recently, her work has been the subject of two major exhibitions, “Dorothy Knowles: Watercolour Portraits of Saskatchewan” at the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery in 2009 and “Dorothy Knowles: Landmarks” December 19, 2009 – February 14, 2010 at the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, Saskatchewan (and touring).

Her group exhibitions include the 7th Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1968); the Spring Exhibition at the Montreal Museum of fine Arts (1968); “From Women’s Eyes: Women Painters in Canada” at the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery, Kingston, Ontario (1975); “Changing Visions: The Canadian Landscape” at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1976); “14 Canadians: A Critic’s Choice” at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.(1977); “Canadian Tapestries” at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1977); “Canadian Art in Britain” at Canada House, London (1982); “Rediscovering the Landscape of the Americas” at Gerald Peters Gallery, Sante Fe, New Mexico (1996); and “Clement Greenberg: A Critics Choice” at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2001).

She has also been included in multiple group exhibitions at the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery (1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1999, and 2001); the Mendel Art Gallery (1967, 1979, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, and 2002); the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1969, 1992, and 1998) and the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (1971, 1974, 1976, 1978, and 1981).

Knowles’ work is in many private and corporate collections. It is also in numerous Canadian museums including the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), the Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), the Art Gallery of Mississauga (Ontario), the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Museum London (Ontario), the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Canada. The Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), with 39 of her paintings, appears to have the largest collection. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* there are 130 Knowles works in museums across Canada.

Her honors and awards include one of Canada's highest honors, appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada (CM) in 2004. The citation reads in part, “Her evocative paintings have come to symbolize the Prairie landscape.”  She also received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 1987 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Regina in 1994. Canada post commemorated her work by releasing 51 cent and 89 cent postage stamps with illustrations of her paintings in 2006.

As an important Canadian artist her work is illustrated and discussed in most recent books about Canadian art history and Canadian modern art.  There is also the monograph, Land Marks: The Art of Dorothy Knowles (2008), written by Terry Fenton in conjunction with the 2008 - 2010 touring exhibition.

Footnotes:

(1) Her husband since 1951 is artist William Perehudoff (see AskART).

(2) She also has a body of abstract work, mostly, completed before the 1960s. Clement Greenberg, a friend and one time instructor at Emma Lake, is credited with turning her away from abstraction and back to landscape.

(3) All artists, teachers and associates mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART, with one exception, art critic and former Senior Curator of the Guggenheim, Lawrence Alloway (1926 - 1990).

(4) She is listed as a summer guest faculty member at the Banff School of Arts in the mid 1970s. Source: page 68  "Artists, Builders and Dreamers - 50 Years at the Banff School" (see AskART book references).

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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