Saskatchewan NAC

Saskatchewan Artist

Arthur McKay
Untitled - 1960 - by Art McKay - University of Regina collection

Arthur McKay

Arthur McKay was born in 1926 in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. He moved around the prairies with his family during his childhood: to Winnipeg, Manitoba (1930), Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (1935), and to Regina in 1940. After two years training with the Canadian Army (1943-1945), McKay decided to pursue art at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (Calgary, 1946-1948) and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (Paris, 1947).

In 1951, McKay returned to Regina, where he was hired by Ken Lochhead to teach at the School of Art (Regina Campus, University of Saskatchewan) where Lochhead worked as the Director. McKay also coordinated the 1957 and 1959 Emma Lake Artists' Workshops with Will Barnet and Barnett Newman.

McKay interrupted his teaching to continue his studies at the School of Painting and Sculpture at Columbia University in New York and at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania (1956-1957).

He took a leave from the Regina campus in 1967 to teach at the Nova Scotia College of Art for one year, then returned to the University of Regina where he taught as an Associate Professor until he retired in 1987.

In 1961, the National Gallery of Canada organized the exhibition “Five Painters from Regina,” which included McKay, Ron Bloore, Ted Godwin, Doug Morton and Ken Lochhead. The Regina Five, as they came to be known, gained national attention for the individual artists and for Regina's place in the abstract art movement.

McKay has received grants from the Canada Foundation (1956), the Humanities Research Council (1957), and the Canada Council (1963-1964).

McKay's work has been exhibited across Canada and in the United States. In 1997, the MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina) organized a retrospective of McKay's work. At the opening, McKay said, “If I’d known I was this good, I’d have painted more.” His paintings are now part of many public and corporate collections, including the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon), the MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina), the Vancouver Art Gallery, Shell Oil Ltd., the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the Canada Council Art Bank, and the New Brunswick Museum of Fine Arts.

Art McKay moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1994. He died in Vancouver, in 2000.

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Arthur McKay

  • Born: 1926. Nipawin, SK
  • Died: 2000. Vancouver, BC
  • Mediums: Oil Painting, Watercolour

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