Honorary degree citation - Louis Muhlstock*
By: Patrick Landsley, June 1978
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, Louis Muhistock, distinguished painter and draftsman.
In honouring Louis Muhistock today, Concordia University pays tribute to an artist whose active professional career spans 53 years of dedicated and creative endeavour.
Emigrating to Europe at an early age and growing up in poverty, he began his artistic training in attending night classes at the Monument National and later studying at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner. Living frugally for six years, he was able to save enough money to study in Paris.
Returning to Canada during the Depression, he became an important painter of the period known as the "thirties". Unable to afford models and often drawing on cheap brown paper, he drew the homeless people of Fletcher's Field, the sad desperate unemployed in Clinics and Soup Lines.
When war broke out, he set to work chronicling the dock-workers, and welders of war production plants. Shortly after, he also began the series of gentle, tender studies of animals and birds for which he is so well known as well as his lyrical drawings and paintings of the nude.
Humanitarian as well as Artist, Louis has said "The Painters' job does not end when the work of art is produced". This "job" and the need to communicate through human relationships led to active participation in the Canadian Art Society, of which he was a founding member in 1949, the Kingston Conference 1941 and the Canadian Group of Painters in 1942. His generous humanity is seen in his social commitment and his constant concern for and love of the outsiders of our society. Over the years, he has donated works to numerous causes, local as well as international; the League against War and Fascism, relief for flood victims in Pakistan and funds for Israel as some examples.
The Montreal Art Critic, Dr. Robert Ayre, has said of Louis, "Instinct and observation have made him one of the finest imaginative draftsman in Canada a pure lyrical painter, sensuously delighting in the earth and its' atmosphere, showing his concern for mankind, his pity and love - yet he preaches no programme, follows no school, he goes his own individual and sensitive way." Dr. Jean Boggs, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada has said of him, "He is a sensitive draftsman and also a painter of great sensibility and feeling who has an enormous emotional response to whatever he draws or paints."
Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you, on behalf of the University Council, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Louis Muhlstock, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.