Alumin Photo

Alfred Pinsky (BBHS ’38)

1921,  Montreal, Quebec – 1999, Grenville, Quebec

Alfred Pinsky’s talent was recognized when he was very young. His public school teacher, Miss Fraser encouraged him to consider becoming an artist. He subsequently studied art with Anne Savage at BBHS and with Goodridge Roberts, Arthur Lismer and Eldon Grier at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where he won a scholarship for the period 1938-39. Pinsky continued his training in New York City at the Art Students’ League as well as at the Contemporary Arts School under John Senhauser and at St. Mark’s Art Centre with Viviano and B. Kerr.

As with many young men of his generation, he had to put aside his studies as the Second World War broke out. Pinsky volunteered and served five years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He returned to study art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School but soon after opened the “Montreal Artists’ School” in cooperation with Ghitta Caiserman, Harold and Barbara Goodwin (from U.S.A.) and Karl Rix. This school was based on the system of the Art Students’ League of New York which offered students freedom, a place to work and close association with the teacher of their choice. Many students were ‘carried’ at the school as they didn’t have the money to pay the fees. The school was forced to close in 1950 because there were too few paying students.

In 1959, Pinsky joined Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) as a part-time lecturer in Fine Arts. In 1960, he became a full-time lecturer and chair of the newly-created Department of Fine Arts. He was promoted to  assistant professor of Fine Arts in 1962, associate professor in 1964 and full professor in 1969. In 1975 he was appointed Dean of Fine Arts, a position he held until 1980. He retired from Concordia University in 1996.

Throughout his life, Pinsky advocated for the role of art in education, a commitment that led him to found the Child Art Council and chair the Canadian Society for Education through Art. He taught art at Teachers’ College, Saskatoon in 1959 and summer sessions at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre.  He was a member of the Canadian Society for Education Through Art, and its President from 1963 to 1965.  Pinsky was also an art critic for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian Art, as well as an essayist. His best-known piece of writing on art, A Study of the Work, was published to mark a retrospective exhibition of the work of Goodridge Roberts in 1969.

In addition to his teaching career, Pinsky continued to produce his own art, exploring mediums such as painting, printmaking and photography. He was particularly drawn to creating work dealing with aspects of conceptual art. In the early 1970’s, he joined with Joan Rankin to produce the show Conceptual Art and Other Things. 

Click here to see a selection of his artwork.


Alfred Pinsky, Jewish Museum of Montreal
Trépanier, Esther. Jewish Painters and Modernity: Montreal 1930-1945. Montreal: Centre Saidye Bronfman, 2008