MUHLSTOCK, LOUIS (1904–2001), Canadian artist. Louis Muhlstock was born in Narajow, Galicia. In 1911 he resettled with his family in Montreal, Canada, where his father had immigrated a few years before. After early studies at the Conseil des arts et manufactures, he took evening classes at the Art Association of Montreal and the École des beaux-arts de Montréal while working during the day as an accountant for a fruit and vegetable merchant.
In 1928 Muhlstock made his way to Paris, where he studied at the Grande Chaumière and took part in several exhibitions. When his mother became ill in 1931 he returned to Canada and the difficult Depression era life of an artist. During this period, Muhlstock painted street scenes, abandoned slums, and some remarkable portraits of people marginalized by society – the poor, the sick, and the unemployed. With these works, he became one of the leading proponents of a new form of Canadian art that moved away from a nationalistic identification with the northern landscape to focus on the human condition and contemporary life. A founding member in 1939 of the Contemporary Arts Society, he was part of a dynamic group of artists from Montreal's Jewish community – which also included Jack Beder (1910–1987), Alexander Bercovitch (1891–1951), Sam Borenstein (1908–1969), and Ernst Neumann (1907–1956) – who gave a more decisively humanist, urban dimension to the art of their day. During World War ii, Muhlstock made a number of pictures of war industry workers.
Over the following decades Muhlstock's work diversified, thematically and stylistically, but remained marked by an expressive sensibility evident in both the graphic quality of his drawings and the handling of his paintings. A regular exhibitor, he was a member of several associations, including the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts, the Canadian Group of Painters and the Federation of Canadian Artists. His works are represented in numerous public and private collections.
[Esther Trépanier (2nd ed.)]