FLORENCE VALE

(1909 - 2003)

 


Florence Vale's 35 year career as an artist first flourished in the 1940s and 50s. Couched in the bohemian traditions of Toronto's Gerrard street, Vale's early aesthetic borrowed from modernist patriarchs and male peers including her husband Albert Franck and the iconic Harold Town. Despite the weight and immersion of these influences, Vale's art reverberated with feminist certainty and imagination.

In describing the varied art for which she is, collectively, famous, Vale said: "I paint what I dream, I draw what I know and I collage who I am." An artist mythologized for her intuitive, figurative works, this statement seems a perfect - if not, practical - summation. To be sure, Vale's art originated as an extension of her active and indulged imaginative life. Though her mediums and styles were assorted, her method consistently relied on a process essayist Natalie Luckyj dubbed imaginative recall. Portraits, landscapes and scenes of poetic abandonment were both fantastical and anchored by detailed observation.

It was through this exploration of imagination and the boundaries between conscious and dreamt reality that Vale's art evolved a genuine and, arguably quintessential, Surrealist quality. Encouraged by her husband and community, Vale grew adventurous in her art making, allowing herself to "dream happily" as she explored a non-physical universe through an array of media. The influences of Modigliani, Klee and Georges Braque, evident in her early work, thinned over this time, trumped instead by an independent and often unpredictable aesthetic totally her own.

More than an artistic character, however, Vale's transcendence of style marked the forging of a liberated self. Indeed, as she progressed through her exploration of media and methods, the artist's signature also evolved; from Florence Vale Franck, to Florence Vale and finally, as though a point of actualization had been realized, Vale. Art for Vale was no longer an extension of imagination, but a process of re-imagining that inhabited her. "What comes out of me now," she stated, "is a personal record of what I have seen and felt, loved and lost."

Vale continued to produce art, mostly collage, into her 80s. Though she passed away in 2003 she left an extensive body of work. From her figurative oils, pen and ink drawings to the collage that characterized her later works, Vale's art is both intensely personal and appealingly emblematic of a period of time and period of being at the heart of Toronto's artistic tradition.

- AJ Lloyd, 2012

 

Florence Vale - 2018 - Works
Florence Vale - 2017 - Works
Florence Vale - 2017 - Works on paper
Florence Vale - 2016 - Works
Florence Vale - 2015 - Time & Line
Florence Vale - 2014 - Works
Florence Vale - 2013 - Collages
Florence Vale - 2012 - Paintings


 
24 Hazelton Avenue Toronto Canada T.416.929.2220