2016 Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award for Non-Fiction — Winner
David Milne is one of Canada’s finest artists, a man whose work speaks to the intricate beauty of the world as he experienced it.
David Milne (1882–1953) dedicated his life to exploring nature and casting it into art in a variety of modernist formats. He was born into poverty in rural Ontario and remained poor all his life because of his relentless dedication to his art. For him, art was life. Nothing mattered to him as much as the enormous “kick“ he felt when he was able to produce the image his artist's eye told him was there.
Milne returned to Ontario in 1929 after a twenty-five-year stay in the United States. In every place he lived his peripatetic existence, Milne created a different kind of landscape painting. In his chosen life of solitude, his mind and hand remained very much alive.
Since Milne spent as much time writing as he did painting, he provides an enormous amount of material for a life writer. His biography re-creates the texture of the artist's one-of-a-kind life and struggles, allowing a truly intimate portrait to emerge.
James King is the author of six novels and nine biographies, the subjects of which include William Blake, Margaret Laurence, Jack McClelland, Farley Mowat, and Lawren Harris. His biography of Herbert Read, The Last Modern, was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award. James King, who is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
Clearly and crisply written, and lavishly illustrated with colour plates of Milne’s work as well as his personal black and white photographs, this biography is an effective tribute to an artist who contributed greatly to the modernist art scene in Canada until the mid-20th century.
King’s text is accessible and prettily illustrated…Milne’s life history is narrated with aplomb…