John Little is a Montreal painter born on February 20, 1928. After studying for two years at École des beaux-arts de Montréal under Arthur Lismer and Goodridge Roberts, he pursued his artistic education at the Art Students’ League in New York with Will Barnet and Frank J. Reilley. In 1949, he assisted Ray Bailey in producing a comic strip entitled ‘’Bruce Gentry’’. Back in Montreal in 1951, he worked for two years as an architectural drafter at his father’s firm before fully dedicating himself to his painting. Renowned for his Old Montreal and Québec urban scenes, his favourite themes, he uses oil, watercolour or ink to depict them. The quality of his drawing and his talent to represent crowd movements and traffic jams in narrow streets is undeniable. In 1957, at a solo exhibition, the Montreal Gazette noted: ‘’ His vision is clear and his interpretation of his subjects is solid and literal. His buildings are solidly based, bear the marks of age and are recorded with a laudable attention to drawing. ‘’ Art dealer, William Watson, took him under his wing and exhibited his paintings in his Montreal gallery. And when this gallery closed, his artworks found other walls in the Montreal’s Continental Galleries and the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery. Dorothy Pfeiffer, an art critic for the Montreal Gazette, wrote about him: ‘’Yet so spirited and relaxed is his painting technique, that his work can in no manner today be labelled as merely documentary. He paints city streets ankle-deep in slush, where his not-quite-ripe olive green mixture carpets pavement with a mélange resembling Quebec limestone. He peoples his old streets and secluded sylvan sites with groups of today’s spirited adults and children…Three important qualities it certainly contains: assurance, individuality and artistic honesty.’’
Apart from numerous exhibitions in private Montreal galleries, Little also exhibited at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1952 and 1966 as well as the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal between 1946 and 1954 and 1961, when he became an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His artwork can be found in many Canadian public collections such as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, the Concordia University collection and several private collections in Canada, the United States and Europe.
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