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William Perehudoff

Canadian artist William Perehudoff was born into a Doukhobor community in Saskatoon in 1918. He was significantly shaped by key figures in Saskatchewan's art scene. Among them, Robert Hurley's evocative prairie landscapes and understanding of colour theory would leave a lasting mark on his work. In 1947, a pivotal moment unfolded when Fred Mendel accepted Perehudoff's proposal to create expansive murals at Intercontinental Packers. Combined with the earnings from farming and union wages, this endeavour afforded him to study under French muralist Jean Charlot in 1948.

In 1950, Perehudoff reached a significant milestone when he held his solo exhibition at the Saskatoon Art Center. He also participated in Emma Lake workshops, alongside New York artists and critic Clement Greenberg, who championed colour-based abstraction. Perehudoff furthered his studies under Amédée Ozenfant, a co-founder of the Purism movement alongside Le Corbusie, in New York.

In 1978, James Purdie, an art critic for the Globe and Mail, hailed him as one of the most prominent colour painters of his era. Purdie noted how his vertical and horizontal bands of colours created a musical interplay on the canvas, akin to notes on a carefully structured scale, where varying shades and intervals produced a harmonious visual symphony. His reputation extended beyond Canada's borders, earning him accolades including a Member of the Order of Canada and an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His honours also included the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Regina. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Perehudoff's works grace the collections of prestigious institutions, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Notably, in 2012, the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon curated a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work titled "The Optimism of Colour: William Perehudoff, a retrospective," celebrating his enduring legacy and his ability to capture the essence of the prairie landscape.

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