Sam Borenstein

Sam Borenstein

Flowers on a chair
oil on canvas
36 x 22in


Sam Borenstein applied his exuberant style to images of Montreal slums, Laurentian villages, and portraits of his family and friends. His vivid colours, distorted perspective, and sense of movement recall the works of the European masters he admired, especially Van Gogh, Vlaminck, Utrillo, and Soutine.

After an early childhood in war-torn Poland, Sam Borenstein moved to Montreal with his father and one of his sisters in 1921. He spent two years in Ottawa as an apprentice to a furrier, then returned to Montreal, where he worked as a cutter in a garment factory. Although he had little formal training, Borenstein took evening art classes, studying sculpture with Elzéar Soucy and drawing with Adam Sheriff Scott and John Y. Johnstone, and associating with local artists Alexandre Bercovitch, Fritz Brandter, Herman Heimlich, and Louis Muhlstock. His first solo exhibition took place in 1934 at the Coffee House café in Montreal. During a six-month painting trip to Brittany in 1939 Borenstein had the opportunity to see the work of the artists he had long admired, and his painting became more focused. He painted in the Laurentians from the 1940s, his exuberant, expressive paintings soon winning him wide attention.

In 1966, three years before he died, Sam Borenstein was the subject of a retrospective exhibit at the new Art Gallery of Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University). Borenstein’s work in the National Gallery includes Saint Dominique Street, Montreal (1942) and Rooftops (1943).

Biography courtesy of: National Gallery of Canada

Comments are closed.