David Craven

David Craven, "Head of the Glamorous Woman", 1984, acrylic on canvas, 78.5 x 96.5 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Naomi Cohen, 2016
David Craven, "In Fear of Glamorous Women", 1984, acrylic on canvas, 94 x 43 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Naomi Cohen, 2016

David Craven
Head of the Glamorous Woman, 1984
Acrylic on canvas, 78.5 x 96.5 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Naomi Cohen, 2016

David Craven
In Fear of Glamorous Women, 1984
Acrylic on canvas, 94 x 43 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Naomi Cohen, 2016

Canadian artist David Craven is widely recognized for his distinctive painting practices that span a forty-year career. Born in London, Ontario in 1946, he graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1969 and the Ontario College of Art in Toronto in 1973. Craven had solo exhibitions across North American, in cities such as Calgary, Toronto, Montréal, New York, Atlanta, Victoria and Edmonton. His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Vancouver Art Gallery, among others, as well as private collections in Canada and the United States. David Craven died in Cambridge, New York, in 2016.

Head of the Glamorous Woman and In Fear of Glamorous Women were both completed in 1984, shortly after Craven relocated from Toronto to New York City. This period of his career is perhaps his most energetic and experimental, and indicative of his turn from purely abstract painting to figuration. Marked by thick, black lines incised into a white spackled background, Head of the Glamorous Woman and In Fear of Glamorous Women are excellent examples of Craven’s distinctively expressive figurative paintings.

While retaining the monumental scale of his abstract works of the 1970s, the work from the 1980s depicts the attributes of urban corporate life: power brokering, telephones, office furniture, et cetera, to create a critique of corporate power and communication. The strong narrative quality of these works coupled with a sense of dramatic irony highlights the dynamism and pressures of city living. Head of the Glamorous Woman and In Fear of Glamorous Women encapsulate the dynamism and anxiety characteristic of Craven’s portraits.

In the spring of 2014, the MacLaren presented David Craven and the Cinematic: Selected Paintings, 1981 to 1985. The show featured six canvasses from our Collection plus two paintings on loan from the Art Gallery of Hamilton.