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 Helmut Gransow  (1921 - )

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Lived/Active: Quebec/Ontario / Canada/Mexico/Germany      Known for: painting, printmaking, illustration, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Helmut Gransow RCA, CPE, CSGA (1921)

A Canadian painter, printmaker, draftsman, illustrator and educator, Helmut Gransow was born in Chemnitz, Germany and emigrated to Ontario, Canada in 1949. His home since 1950 has been Morin-Heights, Quebec, a town about 40 miles northwest of Montreal. (1)

His most well-known medium is oil paint, however he has a distinguished body of work as a printmaker and early in his career he worked as a magazine illustrator. His other mediums include acrylic, watercolor, gouache*, pastel, serigraph*, lithograph*, woodblock print*, etching*, ink wash, pencil, chalk, collage* and monotype*. His subjects include landscapes, village scenes, rural views, mountains, shorelines, boats, lakes, caricatures, humor, figures, nudes, still life and portraits. Most of his paintings depict scenes in southern Quebec; however there are several from his travels in Nigeria, Europe, Florida, and Mexico. His styles are Realism*, Impressionism*, Plein Air*, Cubism* and Fauvism*. AskART has some good illustrations of his work. (2)

His formal art education includes the Crafts School, Chemnitz, Germany (1935 – 1938); the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin (c.1946 – 1947) under Max Kaus; Werkhaus-Werkschule Merz, Stuttgart (1947); and the Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe, Germany (1947 – 1949) under Wilhelm Schnarrenberger and Otto Laible. (3)

Gransow has been a professional artist since 1950. His teaching career is punctuated by two formal jobs – as a teacher of adult art classes for the Morin-Heights School Board (1960 – 1961) and as a teacher at the Chomedey Polyvalent High School, Lavel (a northern suburb of Montreal to which he commuted), Quebec (1968 – 1972).

He’s a member of the Society of Canadian Painters-Etchers and Engravers* (1955), the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts* (1961), and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1983).

In addition to exhibiting with the above organizations, his works have been included in group exhibitions at Museum London, Ontario (1951, 1952); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1952); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (1956); Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (Winnipeg Shows – 1958, 1959, and 1961), University of Toronto (Retrospective of Canadian Printmaking – 1958) and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1959, 1960 and 1961).

They have also been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries across Canada like Galerie Moos, Montreal; Galerie Bernard Desroches, Montreal; Wallack Gallery, Ottawa; Yaneff Gallery, Toronto; Kaspar Gallery, Toronto; Wallace Galleries, Calgary; and Galerie Michel Bigue, Saint-Sauveur, Quebec.

While a member of the San Miguel de Allende artist’s colony, his works were exhibited in Mexico at Galleria Temple, San Miguel de Allende (1992); and at the Canadian Embassy, Mexico City (1993). (4)

He’s also had solo exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1953 and 1959. (5)

Gransow’s works are traded on the Canadian auction market, they are in numerous private and corporate collections, and there are examples of it in Canadian museum collections. (6)

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* his works are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), La Pulperie (Chicoutimi, Quebec), and Museum London (Ontario).

His awards include prizes at the Quebec Provincial Exhibition (1958 and 1977), the Art Gallery of Hamilton (1959), and the Winnipeg Show (1959).

1. Gransow’s first home in Canada was Prescott, Ontario (1949 – 1950), a town about 100 miles southeast of Montreal on the New York border. His Canadian sponsors lived there and had a job for him at their glove factory. In 1950 he moved to Morin-Heights, an area in the Laurentian Mountains which is very popular with artists. The only other reference to another Canadian address for Gransow is in the 1978 edition of “The Index of Ontario Artists” which gives his home address as Severn Bridge, Ontario, a town about 80 miles due north of Toronto, however we could find no other information about this home.

2.1 In the 1950s Gransow worked as an illustrator for Reader’s Digest, Esquire, The Bell and The Montrealer. Source: Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood (see AskART book references).

2.2 Gransow’s travels include Nigeria in 1962 and 1965 (see AskART images – West African Boats dated 1963), and frequently to Mexico, Europe and Florida. Source: Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood (see AskART book references).

3.1 During World War II Gransow served in the German Army (1939 – 1945) in France and on the Russian front; due to sickness he was evacuated from Stalingrad to Germany for medical attention before the surrender and destruction of the 6th Army. In 1945 he was captured by Canadian soldiers near the Dutch border. Source: Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood (see AskART book references).

3.2 Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.

4. The book “Leonard and Reva Brooks: Artists in Exile in San Miguel de Allende” (2001), by John Virtue notes that Gransow had a studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s; and Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood notes that he would spend several months in Mexico from the 1980s onward.

5. Our sources agree on most things, however, where there are disagreements on dates we have used those provided in the chronology on pages 102 and 103 of Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood (see AskART book references); an example is the solo exhibition dates at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for which Canadian Who’s Who has 1953 and 1958 and Gransow has 1953 and 1959.

6. Corporate collectors include Alcan, the Royal Bank of Canada and Imperial Tobacco.

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

Magazin’art: Biennial Guide to Canadian Artists in Galleries, 2002 – 2003
 (2002), edited by Jacques Latulippe (see AskART book references)

Magazin’art: Biennial Guide to Canadian Artists in Galleries, 2000 – 2001
 (2000), edited by Lise Goulet and Jean-Guy Thibault (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Leonard and Reva Brooks: Artists in Exile in San Miguel de Allende (2001), by John Virtue (see AskART book references)

Canadian Who’s Who – 2001 (2001), edited by Elizabeth Lumley (see AskART book references)

Canadian Who’s Who – 1991 (1991), edited by Kieran Simpson (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

Gransow (1986), by Irene Heywood (see AskART book references)

The Index of Ontario Artists (1978), edited by Hennie Wolff (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

American Artist, article by Charles Movalli, August 1, 1995

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (website)

Wochen Spiegel, Chemnitz, (news story: Donation of Art Collection) July 23, 2011

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

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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