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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
April 20, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Forthcoming book: Woldemar Neufeld's Canada


Paintings and Block Prints of Waterloo Region and Beyond: forthcoming, WLU Press, 2009

Edited by Laurence Neufeuld and Monika McKillen

Introduction by Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Gerard Tiessen

Woldemar Neufeld (1909-2002) emigrated with his Mennonite parents and siblings from Ukraine to Canada in 1924. Already trained in oils, the fifteen-year-old immigrant immediately resumed his painting. By the late 1920s, he had begun his life-long project as documentarist, responding especially to the built environment he found in Canada, whether in urban or rural settings, whether close to his Canadian home in southern Ontario or much further afield across Canada, to the north, west, and east. His work passed through a number of distinctive styles, from the coolly abstract to the vividly “realistic.” Never abandoning oils, he also produced a substantial body of watercolours and block-prints – the latter influenced both by German Expressionist and by Japanese print-making approaches.  

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Neufeld was in contact with leading Canadian artists, from Homer Watson to members of the Group of Seven. In 1932-33, his studies at the Ontario College of Art gave him direct contact with the art scene in Toronto. During the 1930s, he travelled from his home base in the Waterloo region of southern Ontario to the prairies and the west coast, as well as to northern Ontario.  From 1935 onward, Neufeld was increasingly influenced by his professional colleagues at the Cleveland Art Institute and by American artists then working in New England and New York, where he settled in 1945. Still, he continued, to the end of his life, to work in Canada, producing, for example, a series of delicate watercolours in the Maritime provinces during the late 1950s and 1960s, and until the 1990s returning often to document, in various media, urban and rural landscapes in southern Ontario.

This new volume, the authoritative record of Neufeld’s Canadian oils, watercolours, and blockprints, will explore the influences that shaped Neufeld’s career as it developed in Canada during the 1920s and 30s and came to fruition over the half-century from the 1940s to the 1990s.  Both Neufeld’s earliest work and that of his most prolific Canadian Period of the 1970’s and 1980’s will be extensively reproduced.  Further, this book will present Neufeld’s work in the context of the material and artistic conditions that caught his artist’s eye as he, alongside other workers in the arts, gave visual utterance to the twentieth century’s emerging Canadian visual imaginary.

Previous books on Neufeld's work include:

Waterloo Portfolio: Woldemar Neufeld's Paintings and Block Prints. Paul and Hildi Tiessen, Sand Hill Books, 1982.  (out of print)

The New Milford Portfolio. Copies available by email: neufeld@wlu.ca or laurenceneufeld@earthlink.net