This still life painting depicts three glistening fish, a pear, an apple and two dark blue vases. They are set against a white and turquoise background.

Hortense M. Gordon

(Hamilton, Ontario, 1886 – Hamilton, Ontario, 1961)


Still Life with Three Fish

about 1950

Oil on canvas
116.1 x 61 cm
Collection of Rob and Mim O’Dowda
Photo: Rob O’Dowda

Still Life with Three Fish presents an arrangement of fish, fruit and vases against a non-figurative background. The warm and cold colours speak to each other in the various elements. The strong influence of abstract art on Hortense M.  Gordon’s style can be felt in her handling of colour and simplified forms. Here, the artist has continued to explore the still life genre while abandoning the strictures of realism. She circumvents tradition by stacking the forms on the picture plane, which flattens the image and thus diminishes the effect of volume and perspective.

The painter Hortense M. Gordon was deeply influenced by the principles of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism, which she gradually incorporated into her style. In addition to frequent trips to Europe, she studied in the United States and was the first Canadian artist to train with the German-born Abstract Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann (1880-1966). In the 1940s, Gordon exhibited regularly in New York and Toronto. In 1953, she co-founded the Painters Eleven group, where she and Alexandra Luke (1901-1967) were the only women members.

Private collection