Maxwell Bates

1906 - 1980
ASA CGP CSGA OC RCA

Born in Calgary in 1906, Bates was one of Canada’s early modernists and one of the most powerful artists of his generation. A painter, printmaker, architect and poet, Bates brought European modernism to western Canada. 

Bates’ conservative home city was not receptive to his work, and in 1931 he moved to England where he was more successful. in 1945, he returned to a more receptive Calgary, His work, in which he used altered perspectives, quirky, unusual plays of colour, multiple planes of space, broken up form and dissembled objects focused on Canadian images of Alberta landscapes, working class and farm people, family scenes, social scenes, and still life.

Bates was an important teacher and a pioneer lithographer, and with John Snow brought the first lithographic press to Alberta. He studied with Max Beckmann at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York, and worked as an architect in Calgary, 

In 1959 the Bates’s left for a European tour and in 1961 moved to Saanich, near Victoria, British Columbia. In 1967 he was awarded the Canadian Centennial Medal. He received an LLD from the University of Calgary in 1971, and in 1973 a major exhibition of his work was held at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  He was awarded the order of Canada in 1980. His work is represented in numerous public collections in Canada and abroad, including the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada.