Canadian Grand master, painter, teacher, Stanley Morel Cosgrove was born in Montreal in 1911 (died in 2002). Stanley Morel Cosgrove studied at the École des Beaux Arts de Montréal. Cosgrove’s work focuses on the human figure, still life and the Canadian landscape, a landscape which he covers in an original way. In the oil paintings of Cosgrove, these landscapes remain classic for many people because of their unusual spirit and their quality of composition where the effects of verticality of the trees cause continual fascination and amazement. He emerges from his oil paintings on canvas mystery and poetry. “My research is not to change subjects, but to combine infinite colours and shapes. This is an almost scientific work. “
Color and geometry as inspiration
“Stanley Cosgrove was, during his life, and still today, a popular artist very appreciated by art collectors. His unique style as a landscape and still life painter has made him a creator of his own. His harmonies of the most singular colours, both sober and contrasting, were inspired by his many trips to Mexico, where the saturated light is similar to that of Quebec in winter. Moreover, Cosgrove has been more of a painter of the light than the subject. What mattered to him was rather the mood, poetic atmosphere created by an intriguing and mysterious luminosity. At the same time warm and brilliant, each canvas is imposing with finesse and delicacy. A painter whom the time will make us rediscover under a new angle.” Robert Bernier
The art of Quebec artist painter Cosgrove is in several major private, public and corporate collections in Canada and internationally: Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Quebec), Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal), National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Vancouver Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Tel Aviv (Israel), etc.
Stanley Cosgrove was born in 1911, in the Pointe St-Charles neighborhood of Montreal. He entered the Montreal School of Fine Arts in 1929 where he remained six years. When he left school, Cosgrove participated in several exhibitions and his work found a favorable response from critics. In 1939, he obtained the Athanase-David scholarship to study in France, but he delayed his departure in order to present an exhibition of his works at the École des beaux-arts de Québec. The war was declared, which upset his plans. He first went to New York and stopped there a few weeks before reaching Mexico. This pivotal period will deeply mark the artist. Cosgrove enrolled at the San Carlos Academy in a design class, then traveled the country. Back in Mexico City, he worked as an assistant to Orozco on a fresco that the great Mexican artist created for the chapel of a city hospital. Upon his return to Quebec, he became a teacher at the Montreal School of Fine Arts. At the time, Director Charles Maillard had a problem on his hands. This problem was Alfred Pellan who, according to Maillard, had too much influence with the young students of the school. He therefore invited Cosgrove to share Pellan’s course load. Cosgrove left the School of Fine Arts in 1958.
The landscape has always been one of his favorite subjects with still life and women. In the fifties, his language asserted itself and found a pictorial meaning which the artist treated with many variations. The influence of his years spent in Mexico is still omnipresent. Cosgrove will say about Mexico, “there is no color, it is black and white”. His palette of colors is reduced, its almost monochrome paintings leave a delicate imprint, as if the image appeared by itself on the canvas. The subject appears in its simplest expression. During this period, he painted landscapes with muted colors whose contrast imposed by echo, shades all in subtleties, to the limit of saturation. The painter’s pictorial nuances are pieces of poetry, both literally and figuratively. The artist, by his own admission, paints to make life viable, to move. «… Some see painting as an obscure problem that is complicated by new forms. I don’t think the truth is more in yesterday’s formula than tomorrow’s; it is situated on a spiritual plane which is too complex, too superior to be enclosed in one or more temporal formulas, however attractive they may be. It is not above important to provoke, in the sensitive observer, this impetus which elevates it beyond the visual aspect of things, deeper, more understanding, making painting a transfiguration of objects even the most apparently devoid of all poetry?” The paintings of the fifties illustrate, better than all the others, this tendency towards transfiguration, towards landscapes coming from everywhere and from nowhere, resulting both from reality and from the imaginary, from the visible and the invisible. In these works of a certain candor, the artist’s brush barely sketches the motif and favors a search for color, in the barely audible murmur of an inner voice.
Source : Robert Bernier, Un siècle de peinture au Quebec Nature et paysage, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 1999, Stanley Cosgrove, pages 186-187.
Stanley Cosgrove (1911-2002)
[…] The artist has his favorite subjects: landscapes, still lifes and women. His entire work revolves around these three themes without deviating from them. Not only did he remain faithful to these themes, but he has always kept much of the same plastic approach. In some respects, such a choice, which does not avoid a certain monotony, may appear to reflect a lack of imagination or daring, although it all depends on the angle of observation. Repetition, with Cosgrove, has a positive dimension insofar as the artist approaches his themes according to a very broad register. In fact, his work has not ceased to be transformed, but with subtlety, a little like the musician who introduces fine nuances in his play, which sometimes changes the resonance of the piece, sometimes the rhythm. His chromatic range is muted: the tones are close in intensity, but some are more acute, the overall play giving the work its depth. It is precisely in his way of playing with color that the artist gives innumerable faces to the themes that are dear to him. Cosgrove had started to work with this light which, by its intensity, literally knocks out color, at the time he lived in Mexico, in the 1940s.
If Cosgrove devotes most of his creative energy to painting, drawing occupies an equally fundamental place in his approach. The artist will draw from women a fertile inspiration, all in nuances and softness. His line dances on paper and delivers in a very unique way an extraordinary combination of rhythm and breath that eroticism punctuates with its unique flavor.
Stanley Cosgrove has marked painting from here in more than one aspect. Without being able to qualify him as a great colorist, he would have had to have a thorough knowledge of colors to manage to create a painting as subtle and powerful. There is no doubt that he occupies and will occupy for a long time a place of choice among lovers of figurative art and art in general.
Source : Robert Bernier, La peinture au Québec depuis les années 1960, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2002, Cosgrove Stanley Cosgrove (1911-2002), pages 289-291.