LOT 023

1927 - 1977

School Yard Games
mixed media on board
initialed and dated 1976
6 x 12 in, 15.2 x 30.5 cm

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000 CAD

Sold for: $49,250

Preview at:

Acquired directly from the Artist
By descent to the present Private Collection, British Columbia

Patricia A. Morley, Kurelek: A Biography, 1986, page 2

This charming and nostalgic painting of a school playground is a complex tableau of the games children play, drawn from William Kurelek’s childhood experiences on the Prairies. He spent his early life on farms at Whitford, Alberta, and Stonewall, Manitoba. Kurelek was a sensitive child, and his memories of his early life were highly detailed and insightful. He painted a series of works based on childhood games, some of which were included in the book A Prairie Boy’s Summer, paired with his recollections. Patricia Morley wrote that Kurelek’s “scenes of people in groups, at work and at play, are in the tradition of the medieval Flemish masters…Nothing escaped his notice or his brush. His narrative skill turned paintings into stories.”

School Yard Games is a meticulous, finely finished work that captures the high spirits of the children, who have burst out from the confines of their one-room schoolhouse into the beautiful summer day. Different activities occur throughout the painting, such as skipping rope, doing the long jump, wrestling and playing leapfrog. Kurelek depicts both innocent fun and mischievous shenanigans, such as the boy on the left who has roped up two children like horses, driving them with a switch. In the playground, children from various immigrant backgrounds (the Kureleks were Ukrainian) mingled with those of Anglo-Saxon descent, their complex group dynamic captured by Kurelek’s sharp and empathetic eye.

This work is in the original frame made by Kurelek.

Estimate: $25,000 - $35,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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