In celebration of his 100th birthday, Eli Bornstein, in collaboration with author and curator Roald Nasgaard, has published a stunning work of personal reflection on a most transformative time in his life and career. Eli Bornstein: Arctic Journals 1986 and 1987 is a tribute to the Canadian North, a meditation on artistic creation, and a window onto the ideological musings of Canada’s greatest Structurist artist.
Devoid of the mythologizing other artists have given their writing on the North, Bornstein’s journals are introspective, insightful, and sometimes funny. Comprised of personal journal entries from two northern trips he took with photographer Hans Dommasch—along with watercolour studies, Structurist reliefs, and a personal collection of poems—Bornstein’s work is a vital reminder of our outsized influence over the natural world and an invitation to recognize our need for nature in our life and in our art.
Bornstein’s publication is the culmination of a life’s work on reconciling himself with nature and the understanding our very existence.
Eli Bornstein, artist, teacher, writer, publisher was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1922. Starting in the mid-1950s, while teaching art at the University of Saskatchewan, he became one of the leading practitioners of Structurist art, which evolved from his study of the Modernist tradition from Impressionism and Cézanne and through to Russian Constructivism, and Mondrian. Although he builds his Structurist reliefs using the abstract language of colour and three-dimensional geometric form, they are dedicated to the study of nature and its biological processes.
In 1960 he founded the internationally circulating periodical, The Structurist, published out of the University of Saskatchewan, to which he regularly contributed art historical and theoretical essays. The Structurist ran for 50 years (Nos. 1–50, 1960–2010), with an anniversary issue (Nos. 51/52, 2019/2020). Over the years he has also completed major commissions for public art located in Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Bremen, Germany.
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Roald Nasgaard, eminent art historian and former chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is the author of the critically acclaimed books The Mystic North, Abstract Painting in Canada, and The Automatiste Revolution, and many exhibition catalogues.
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“A veritable buffet of delights, it provides insight into Bornstein’s nature-inspired artistic process and Structurist art, which has its roots in early 20th-century geometric abstraction.”
Art Books 2022