HAROLD BARLING TOWN, R.C.A.
Estate of the artist
Private Collection, Toronto
Gerta Moray, Harold Town: Life and Work, Art Canada Institute, Massey College, University of Toronto, Toronto, 2014.
References to the great Dutch artist Piet Mondrian appear in the art of Harold Town (1924-1990) throughout his career. For example in 1961 Town produced the collage entitled Death of Mondrian No. 1 (collection of Museum London) and in 1975-1985 an assemblage entitled Mondrian and Pollock, (Estate of the artist). Mondrian was also one of the subject’s depicted in Town’s series, The Famous. In this work, No Room at Mondrian's Inn, Town incorporates a pre-fabricated key rack from a downmarket doss house, which he has painted minimally in keeping with Mondrian's reduced and restricted practice.
Central to Mondrian's art making was the grid system. For this work, Town capitalizes on the key rack's grid-like design, pre-ordained by its original purpose. But it is the magic of titling this work that transforms, indeed transmogrifies it from a randomly found cast-off to work of art. The elevation from object to art is contingent upon the title Town cleverly provides. With a legendary wit, Town's notoriously barbed and inevitably provocative prose are often eclipsed by his visual art making. However, an even a cursory consideration of the titles bestowed on series or individual works of art, this lot being an excellent example, will reveal his love of language and word play.