THE ART OF ROBERT-RALPH CARMICHAEL
This book is a compendium of the life and works of Robert-Ralph Carmichael.
Bob was best known for having designed the iconic Canadian coin – the one dollar “Loonie”. He was a Canadian artist of note. He dedicated his entire life to being a full time artist. While he designed many coins for the Canadian mint, his passion was painting and drawing.
He was a prolific artist creating over 500 paintings and hundreds of drawings. He was a landscape and still life painter, but his passion was surrealism, or representational painting as he called it.
In this book I showcase his artistic works – surreal, landscape, and still life paintings - and his murals, drawings, and coins. The images were chosen from Carmichael’s personal archives. The archives encompassed his entire portfolio of paintings and drawings.
As well we provide a brief outline of Robert-Ralph Carmichael’s life, and the influences on his art. I grew up in the idyllic old farming community of Sylvan Valley where Bob and his wife, and fellow artist, Gwen Keatley set up their home and studio in 1976. I got to know them quite well. Gwen provided me with access to Bob’s archive. But, most importantly, Gwen, in her uniquely inimitable manner, shared stories of their life and Bob’s paintings. Many of the stories are included in the book.
David Aurandt, a recognized Canadian art scholar and curator, and a friend of Bob’s, adds a vital art historians’ perspective on Robert-Ralph Carmichael’s works. Additional artistic perspective is provided by Miranda Bouchard, curator of Bob’s 2012 Walking Spirits show at The Art Gallery of Algoma. A far earlier perspective is provided by Philip Fry the curator of Bob’s 1972 Temptation of Aquarius: Paintings of Robert-Ralph Carmichael show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
The focus of this book is show casing Bob’s paintings. As Viktor Tinkl, a class mate of Bob’s at the Ontario College of Art and life-long friend said, “The image speaks for itself, narrative is secondary.”
And indeed the lack of access to his images is one of the reasons why Robert-Ralph Carmichael’s work has not received the recognition that it merits. Bob did not allow any of his works to be replicated. One could only see Bob’s work in its’ original form - at a gallery, at an art show, in his studio, or in a private collection.
This is the first time that images of his works have been made available.