D. Alex Colville was born in Toronto, Ontario, the second son of David Harrower Colville and Florence Gault. His father had immigrated from Scotland in 1910 at age 20. The senior Colville spent his working life in steel construction, building many important Canadian structures such as the Welland Canal and several important bridges (a steel bridge is the centrepiece of more than one Colville painting).
Alex Colville is an internationally recognized Canadian artist. His work is identified with the School of Realism, but, more accurately it is realism-plus. The plus is represented by the mystical and intensely private component in almost all his works. When one first studies a Colville painting one is compelled to feel - "what is happening between these subjects - what have they just said - what intimate, perhaps supernatural experience is revealed here? This is far more than factual scenic production".
For these and other reasons his works are in the permanent collections of public museums in Canada, Britain, Germany, France, USA and Holland. His paintings have been displayed in 15 one-man shows in cities from Beijing to Berlin.
Alex Colville's education began in Amherst, Nova Scotia and he entered Mount Allison University in 1938.
He began after-school art classes at age 15. These were sponsored by the extension department of Mount Allison. At the same time he rejected an offer of a scholarship to study law at Daihousie.
Alex Colville became a Professor (Fine Arts) at Mount Allison and was chancellor of Acadia University from 1980 - 1991.
He married Rhoda Wright (also an artist) in 1942 and they have four children, one of whom is a graphic designer. He served in the Canadian Army as a war artist in World War Two, being discharged with honours. He has received honorary degrees from nine universities, is a Companion of the Order of Canada, and a Member of the Privy Council. He was the only Canadian invited as a Fellow to the newly founded University of California at Santa Cruz (1965) returning to Canada in spite of an attractive permanent job offer.
Alex Colville has spent most of his life in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is devoted to the Maritimes. He displays the open-heartedness and generosity of spirit so evident in people from this part of the world.