La Plonge #8

colour lithograph, 1977
23.5 x 31.5 in (59.7 x 80 cm)



William Perehudoff

1919 - 2013

William Perehudoff grew up in a small farming community outside of Saskatoon. Those around him spoke Russian and the majority of his family was homeschooled. Perehudoff had begged his family to enrol him in public school, of which they were initially sceptical but eventually they relented. As an adult he studied art in Colorado Springs and New York. In New York he studied at the Ozenfant School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of Amedee Ozenfant and was influenced by Cubism. 

Perehudoff noted he was inspired by Mexican muralists, and the influence of Diego Rivera in particular can be seen in Perehudoff’s Intercontinental Packers Limited Mural (1948). The 4 panels of the meat packing mural are reminiscent of the Detroit Industry Murals Rivera completed in 1933. It’s remarkable that Perudoff completed his mural prior to his studies at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Centre with a focus in fresco and painting. Upon his return from his studies, his commissioned mural work was smaller and was mostly restricted to domestic spaces. However, due to the large scale of his canvas paintings, Perehudoff often painted on the floor with paint brushes, sponges and rollers. 

Along with his contemporaries, Perehudoff attended the Emma Lake Workshops to learn from guest speakers and develop his practice. 

As Perehudoff matured his style would become more like the Colour Field painters of his era. If his murals were decidedly modern, his paintings were even more so. Saskatchewan became a hub for experimental artists and drew international attention for the artists’ innovation, akin to the New York School. Clement Greenberg, a proponent of Colour Field painting, published a survey of contemporary art in CanadianArt in 1963 and commended the artists’ development. 

The artist's knowledge of the land informed much of his work, especially the Saskatchewan murals of 1947. His abstract colourist paintings might also be viewed through a landscape lens.  ‘Prairie 4’ has a yellow background that becomes an expansive field of canola or prairie grass, and the brown stripes perhaps a bison moving through it. The horizontal lines of differing thickness evoke an image of rows of crops about to be harvested. 

In 2012, he was honoured with a retrospective with the Mendel Art Gallery and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal. He died in 2013.