WILLIAM RONALD, R.C.A.
Private Collection, Toronto (acquired directly from the artist)
William Ronald (1926-1998) was one of the founding members of Painters Eleven, an abstract group of Toronto artists active from 1953 to 1960. He practiced a form of Abstract Expressionism that was well received in New York where he moved in 1955. Refusing to shift to Pop Art, which was in the ascendant in the 1960s, Ronald left the Kootz Gallery, his Manhattan dealer, and returned to Toronto in 1965 where he continued to paint while working as an arts broadcaster. His work from the 1970s and 1980s refers to earlier work from the 1950s, often featuring a central bulging ovoid shape resembling a head. Ronald’s Portrait of Pierre Trudeau, painted in 1980—one in a series of portraits of Canada’s prime ministers—is one such work. Also dating to 1980, are a number of canvases with decorative borders, containing ovoid shapes in various guises, to which the artist has given titles of movies from the 1950s (a period during which he was a rising star on the international art scene). Hulot’s Avignon (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, 1953), Black Orpheus, 1959, and The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952 are three examples. Here, the title suggests an aerial view of a circus “big top,” but the image is open to other interpretations.