William Ronald

Canadian, 1926 - 1998

Seer, 1960-61, oil on canvas, 68 3/4 x 68 3/4 inches

Founder of a group called Painters Eleven in Canada, William Ronald was born in Stratford and raised in Fergus and Brampton.  He also did a series of portraits in Abstract Expressionist style of Prime Ministers including Pierre Trudeau.  Upon graduation from the Ontario College of Art, where he was a hockey player,William Ronald went directly to New York to study for six months with Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, having won a $1,000.00 scholarship from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.

Returning to Ontario, he became a display artist for a home furnishings store, and involved 10 artists like himself in an abstract expressionist exhibition held February 1954.  The group became known as Painters Eleven and included himself plus Alexandra Luke, Harold Town, Oscar Cahen, Kazuo Nakamura, Jack Bush, Hortense Gordon, Walter Yarwood, Ray Mead, Tom Hodgson and Jock Macdonald.  Their work was described as "aggressive and challenging".  

After this first exhibition of Painters Eleven, Ronald moved back to New York City where in April, 1956, the Painters Eleven exhibited at the Riverside Museum at the 20th Anniversary of American Abstract Artists because of contacts made by Ronald.  In turn, he had a solo exhibition in November 1959 in Toronto at the Greenwich Gallery.  Also, he began selling paintings to major collectors including Countess Ingeborg de Beausac. Dealer Samuel Kootz was a guest, and subsequently represented the artist.  William Ronald's first solo exhibition opened in April, 1957 in New York, and he received positive reviews as well as reinforcement from leading Abstract Expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Franz Kline.

Ronald suffered from heart trouble and in his old age suffered a heart attack while painting. He lived long enough to have named the piece “Heart Attack”, he died a few days later.