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 William Perehudoff  (1918 - 2013)

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Lived/Active: Saskatchewan / Canada      Known for: abstract painting, graphics, ink drawing, mixed media

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
AC 78-15
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Perehudoff CM, SOM, LLD, ARCA  (1918-2013) (1)

An important Canadian painter, printmaker, illustrator, muralist, and commercial artist, William Perehudoff was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, raised in Langham, Saskatchewan (17 miles north west of Saskatoon) and has lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan since 1951. His work and life are discussed in virtually every recent comprehensive Canadian art history book, most major Canadian museums collect his works, and he is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Order of Canada*. (2)

His mediums include acrylic, oil, watercolor, tempera*, fresco*, pastel, collage*, graphite, ink, serigraph*, lithograph*, monotype* and mixed mediums.  He is best known as an abstractionist; therefore the primary subjects of his work are shape, color and texture.  He also has a large body of representational work from early in his career; their subjects include landscapes, portraits, figures, genre, interiors, industrial activities, social commentary, historic figures, historic events, Indians, and farm life.  His most well-known styles are Color Field Painting*, Post Painterly Abstraction*, Constructivism*, Purism*, and Hard-Edge Painting*.  His earlier styles; those used in murals, illustrations, and other works; included Realism*, Cubism*, Fauvism* and Social Realism*. AskART Images have some good illustrations of his abstract work.

Perehudoff’s formal art education includes the Ralph M. Pearson Design Workshop Course via correspondence (1946 – 1948); the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center where he studied fresco under Jean Charlot and anatomy and drawing with Ricardo Martinez, Lew Tille and Lawrence Barrett (1948 – 1949); private oil painting lessons from Charles Bunnell (1948); classes in art as it relates to architecture under Amédée Ozenfant in New York City (c.1949 – 1951); the Emma Lake Workshops* during the 1950s and 1960s where he studied under  Will Barnet (1957), Herman Cherry (1961), Clement Greenberg (1962), Kenneth Noland (1963), and Donald Judd (1968); the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh (1968); the Garner Tullis Workshop (monotypes and hand-made paper), Santa Barbara, California (1986); and the Triangle Workshop, New York (1987). (3)

Perehudoff taught adult art classes in the evenings in the Lighted School House program at the Langham School (1946 – 1947) and he led his own workshop at Emma Lake in 1988.

His travels include France, Italy and England in 1952 and the USSR and Finland in 1987.

In 1953, he joined Modern Press, a printing and publishing company where he became the Art Director and worked until his retirement in 1979 when he turned to painting full time.

He was a member of The Prospectors a short lived (1949) Saskatoon art group whose members included Reta Cowley, Antonia Eastman [1886 – 1972], McGregor Hone [1920 – 2007], Ernest Lindner, Wynona Mulcaster, Bartley Pragnell, Les Saunders, and George Swinton. In 1968 Perehudoff was elected an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (ARCA) with  whom he exhibited in 1967, 1968 and 2000.

Perehudoff has also exhibited with the Saskatoon Art Association (1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948); the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* (1946); the Winnipeg Biennial at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1962); the spring exhibitions of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1963, 1964, 1965 and 1968); and in the Sixth and Seventh Biennials of Canadian Painting at the National Gallery of Canada (1965 and 1968).

His works have been included in numerous major regional and national group exhibitions such as “Artists of Saskatchewan”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1953); “Saskatchewan Jubilee Show 65”, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1965); “Eleven Saskatchewan Artists”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1967); “Canada 68”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1968); “Emma Lake Workshops, 1955 – 1973”, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1973); “A Survey of Contemporary Canadian Art”, Hamilton Art Gallery, Ontario (1974); “Contemporary Canadian Painters”,  Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (1975); “Emma Lake and After”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and touring (1976); “14 Canadians, A Critic’s Choice”, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (1976); “Modern Painting in Canada: Major Movements in Twentieth Century Canadian Art”, Edmonton Art Gallery [later renamed Art Gallery of Alberta] (1978); “Seven Prairie Painters”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1978); “A Contrast of Visions”, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (1979); “Aspects of Canadian Painting in the Seventies”, Glenbow Art Gallery, Calgary (1980); “The Heritage of Jack Bush: A Tribute”, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (1981); “Tradition and Innovation, Saskatoon Art and the 1950s”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1987); “The Flat Side of the Landscape”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1989); “Re-viewing Modernism”, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (1992); “The Lavalin Collection: Sharing a Vision”, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (1994); “Picasso on the Prairies”, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1994); “Clement Greenberg: a Critic’s Choice”, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon (2001); “The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (2003); “The Shape of Colour: Excursions in Colour Field Art, 1950 – 2005”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2005); “Spell”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (2005); “Seeing Through Modernism, Edmonton 1970 – 1985”,  Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton (2008); and “Abstract Painting in Canada”, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (2008).

For over half a century, his works have been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions beginning at the Saskatoon Art Centre in 1950, 1952, 1961 and 1965.  Other venues have included the Mendel Art Gallery (1965, 1970, 1981, 1993, 2003 and 2010), the Edmonton Art Gallery (1972), the Glenbow Museum (1977), the Mackenzie Art Gallery (1978), and “Colour Chording: Post-Painterly Abstraction of the Canadian Prairies: William Perehudoff”, at the High Commission for Canada, Canada House, London, England (2006).

His works have also been included in solo and group exhibitions at numerous prominent commercial galleries including Waddington Fine Arts, Montreal; Wallack Gallery, Ottawa; Robertson Galleries, Ottawa; The Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton; Canadian Art Galleries Ltd., Calgary; The Gallery/Art Placement, Inc., Saskatoon; Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, BC; Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver, BC; Winchester Galleries, Victoria, BC; Noah Goldowsky Gallery, New York, NY; Meredith Long Contemporary Gallery, New York, NY; Eva Cohon Gallery, Ltd., Chicago, IL; and Theo Waddington Gallery, London, England.

Currently (2012), Perehudoff is the subject of the Mendel Art Gallery touring retrospective “The Optimism of Colour: William Perehudoff”, which opened at the Mendel Art Gallery on October 1, 2010 (to January 9, 2011) and has visited the Kamloops Art Gallery, Kamloops, BC (March 26 to May 28, 2011); the Glenbow Museum, Calgary (July 1 to September 18, 2011); the Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario (January 12 to May 31, 2012); and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (July 7 to September 9, 2012).

Perehudoff’s works are avidly collected in Canada, they are frequently traded on the Canadian auction market, and they are in many corporate collections and most Canadian museum collections.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his  works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Mississauga (Ontario), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Canadian Museum of Civilization (Gatineau, Quebec), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Museum London (Ontario), Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). They are also in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India.

Perehudoff created murals for the Saskatoon School for the Deaf (1947); Intercontinental Packers Ltd., Saskatoon (1947, 1953, and 1973); the Fred Mendel residence, Saskatoon (1948); the Holiday House Motel, Saskatoon (1954); the Saskatchewan Transportation Company Bus Depot (1955); and the Saskatoon Public Library (1966).  He illustrated the books “So Soon Forgotten” (1955), “Fifty Mighty Men” (1958), “Land of Hope” (1960), “Tides in the West: A Wheat Pool Story” (1962), “Blazing the Old Cattle Trail” (1962), “Hoofprints and Hitchingposts” (1964), “Circling Under the Sun” (1966), and “A Pictorial History of the Doukhobors” (1969).

His honors and awards include a Senior Canada Council* grant (1978); the University of Alberta National Award in Painting (1978); the Canada 125 Commemorative Medal (1993); the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (1994); the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Regina (2003); and the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal (2005).

In 1998 he was named a Member of the Order of Canada (CM) which is one of the country’s highest honors. The citation reads in part:

He has become one of the country's leading abstract painters whose works are found in the permanent collections of Canadian galleries from coast to coast. While his early paintings immortalize historical and scenic views of rural Saskatchewan, his art has evolved continuously over his fifty-year career.”


(1) Most sources list Perehudoff’s birth year as 1919; however, during the preparation of the “The Optimism of Colour” exhibition, his birth certificate was discovered and it specifically says “1918 Born April 21 at St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon, SK.”  Source: Email and phone conversation with Troy Mamer, Mendal Art Gallery, Saskatoon.

(2) William Perehudoff’s wife since 1952 is Dorothy Elsie Perehudoff Knowles; their daughters are Carol Perehudoff, Catherine Perehudoff and Rebecca Perehudoff, they all have AskART records. – MDS

(3.1) The Triangle Arts Association located in Brooklyn, New York is a not-for-profit arts organization whose mission is to support emerging and mid-career international and national visual artists, encouraging dialogue and experimentation through workshops, residencies and exhibition opportunities.  Triangle runs two main programs: the biennial Triangle Artists’ Workshop and the year-round Triangle Residency.  Both programs pair international artists with their New York colleagues, creating an environment for exchange and creative experimentation.  The workshop is considered their flagship program.  It was founded in 1982 and since 1990 has taken place every two years.  It’s a two-week studio session for an international group of 25 to 30 professional visual artists.  A selection committee chooses the participating artists who are then provided with studios, meals and housing and have access to a wood shop, technical support and other production facilities as needed. Workshop participants have included Anthony Caro, Larry Poons, Andre Fauteux, Otto Rogers, Frank Gehry and Clement Greenberg. Source: The Triangle Arts Association.

(3.2) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their name, have their own pages in AskART.


The Optimism of Colour: William Perehudoff, a retrospective” (2010), by Karen Wilkin, Roald Nasgaard and Robert Christie (see AskART book references)

Abstract Painting in Canada” (2008), by Roald Nasgaard (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)

The Canadian Encyclopedia” Second edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 5, Nadeau – Perrigard” (1977), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Modern Painting in Canada: Major Movements in Twentieth Century Canadian Art” (1978), by Terry Fenton and Karen Wilkin (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (catalogue summaries online)

The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India.

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan (online)

University of Regina, Saskatchewan (LL.D source)

The Governor General of Canada (Order of Canada and Jubilee Medal source)

The Gallery / Art Placement Inc., Saskatoon

Winchester Galleries Ltd., Victoria

Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting, Regina

Troy Mamer, Mendal Art Gallery, Saskatoon (birthdate source)

* 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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