Hewitt Gallery, New York
Lincoln Kirstein, New York
Private Collection, New York
Alex Colville, Hewitt Gallery, New York, 1955
David Burnett, Colville, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1983, p. 85, reproduced
Helen Dow, The Art of Alex Colville, Toronto, 1972, p. 95, reproduced
Colville has had a constant fascination with domestic animals, large machines (trains and snow plows) or intricate ones (like cars and revolvers). Just after the war, and in the early fifties, he concentrated on the human figure, and mostly the female figure.
Woman, Jockey and Horse is unusual in its closeness to the subject. Colville usually stands back from his subject, at least at a sufficient distance to give the viewer room to engage or not. Or he allows the viewer to choose the degree of intimacy with the subject. In this painting, however, he has closed the distance almost to an uncomfortable degree. He makes us feel that we are standing in the picture beside the woman and the jockey, but are neither part of their conversation nor sure of their relationship.
The feeling the work creates, therefore, is slightly unnerving and emotionally tense. Like most of Colville's works, this one is hinting at a story we might like to know, but can only glean some few facts about: there is a woman, a jockey and a horse. The rest is up to us, whether to invent a narrative, to speculate on their relationship, or resign ourselves to an acceptance of the ever-changing enigma they embody.
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