Maxwell Bates, The Hostess, 1973, oil on canvas, Collection of the Canada Council Art Bank

Maxwell Bates

The In Crowd


Organized By Glenbow Museum

Curated By Travis Lutley and Sarah Todd

The In Crowd brings together a grouping of paintings by iconic western Canadian artist Maxwell Bates that have previously never been seen together. These works depict the vibrant, tense and often exaggerated social situations found at parties, restaurant outings and gallery openings. A master people-watcher, Bates felt the paintings from this period were some of his best work. The In Crowd has been drawn from private and public collections from Victoria to Toronto.

By 1961, Maxwell Bates had built a reputation as a nationally respected expressionist painter and architect, but he had never focused exclusively on his art. That all changed after he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body. He moved from Calgary to Victoria BC to recover and devoted himself to painting. Now relying entirely on the sales of his work for his income, he engaged with the art world in a new way. Art dealers, openings and parties became his new social scene.

Known for his striking portraits and poignant character studies, Bates now focused his probing gaze on his own social life and painted what he lived. These paintings depict art events, restaurant outings, domestic parties and the spectacle of exaggerated social situations.

Bates felt the party paintings he made during this period were some of his best work as they captured the subtle and complex qualities of human relationships and interactions so well. Vibrant, tense, funny and wild, the paintings brim with pictorial and social tension.

Never exhibited together before, these late-period Bates paintings have come together from across Canada. We cordially invite you to join the party and become part of The In Crowd.

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