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Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt

Mary Pratt

320 pages
Published:   October 3, 2023
Non-Fiction  /  Art & Architecture
Hardcover:   9781773101729    $45.00

Winner, New Brunswick Book Award (Non-Fiction) and APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award

Mary Pratt’s art has captivated millions of Canadians. Her luminescent paintings capture reality in a way that few artists have been able to achieve — the chip in a glass bowl, the play of light across a dish-strewn supper table, the vulnerability of a naked woman. Replete with symbolism, Pratt’s work elevates the traditional still life by transforming the everyday into the iconic.

Art historian Anne Koval wrote Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision in close consultation with Pratt. The book is informed by extensive interviews with the artist, and her family, friends, and colleagues and by unprecedented access to Pratt’s archival holdings at Mount Allison University. This in-depth study of Pratt’s life and work explores the complex issues of gender, feminism, and realism in Canadian art, resulting in a richly layered biography of an artist who redefined the visual culture of her period and whose art and life intersect in varied and surprising ways.
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Anne Koval is Professor of Art History, Museum and Curatorial Studies at Mount Allison University. She is the author of Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision, Whistler in His Time, and the co-author of James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth. She has written on Anna Torma for the Textile Museum of Canada and her writing on contemporary art has appeared in several edited volumes, including Stitching the Self: Identity and the Needle Arts, More Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women, and The Radcliffe Line and Other Geographies: Sarindar Dhaliwal, which includes a series of ekphrastic poems by Koval. She has curated exhibitions at the Owens Art Gallery, the Mendel Art Gallery, the Banff Park Museum, and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, which included the work of Ed Pien, Merle McMaster, D’Arcy Wilson, Diana Thorneycroft, Aganetha Dyck, Barb Hunt, Jeannie Thib, Janice Wright Cheney, Cindy Sherman, and Sylvia Plath.


Winner: New Brunswick Book Award (Non-Fiction)
Winner: APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award


“Anne Koval’s biography of Mary Pratt sings in sympathy with its subject. This intimate and engaging portrait of one of Canada’s greatest artists collapses the boundaries between biographer and biographee to produce a remarkable symbiosis of voice and vision.” — Helen Humphreys, author of Field Study

“Koval goes beyond the myths and tropes that surround Mary Pratt’s life and art, as she draws upon Pratt’s piercing intelligence and her remarkable, felt understanding of the mundane. She shows that, for Pratt, art was an act of love, one that couldn’t exist without sacrifice.” — Mireille Eagan, curator of contemporary art, The Rooms

“Incandescent, a word often applied to Mary Pratt’s paintings, perfectly describes this engrossing biography. Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision brings together the artist’s archives with deeply intimate interviews and exquisite reproductions of her photorealist paintings. Pratt, an iconic painter of light on food and objects in the grand tradition of Chardin, springs to life, blessed with a sublime interpreter in Koval.” — Molly Peacock, author of Flower Diary

“This evocative biography of Mary Pratt illuminates the passionate life and consummate art of our greatest female painter since Emily Carr. Woman, wife, mother, artist — Mary Pratt captivates with her delightful complexity and enthralling vision.” — The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, author of Heart Matters

“The strength of Koval’s book (and there are many) is in the way she humanizes the artist. Hers is not an arid, objective disquisition. She approaches Pratt with a disarmingly honest curiosity, poetry, grace, and respect.” — Telegraph-Journal

“Illustrated throughout with full color imagery, Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision is an extraordinarily informative biography of an extraordinary artist and will be well received by her legions of fans.” — Midwest Book Review

“Readers with an interest in art will surely enjoy this lucid, well-researched tribute to a strong-minded female painter who left her own unique mark on the Canadian art world.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“Be prepared to sit up a little straighter as you thumb through this book, peer a little more closely at her images and the photographs of her life. See the artist beyond the twinkling eyes, the warm smile, the often-self-deprecating laugh. Mary West is in there. You will be glad to know her.” — Galleries West

“This book is profoundly personal. Much has been written about Pratt — much of her own writing has been published — but there is still lots to delve into, to spend time with, to see. These pages are infused with her personality and history, which was welcoming, insightful, and complex. The result is rich and layered and nourishing, an intelligent and incandescent record of a visually resounding legacy.” — The Telegram

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