Les Graff was born in Camrose, Alberta in 1936. Growing up in Bashaw his talent was known and encouraged by many people in the town. When he had the opportunity to attend a summer session at the Banff Centre, the town raised $111.00 and gifted it to him as a tuition scholarship. Les then attended the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary from 1955-59 on scholarships and part-time jobs. That was followed with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, long considered the cradle of American modernism in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
From 1962-2016, he exhibited in 30 solo and 40 group shows. In addition to his career as an artist, Les was the Director of Alberta Culture, Visual Arts from 1966-1991; he served on the board of the Edmonton Art Gallery from 1996-1998; and he has had numerous teaching and curatorial engagements over his career.
2016 was a momentous year for Les Graff. He was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA). This well-deserved honour, recognized his contribution to Canadian art, and secured a place for him in Canada’s art history. In 2017 Les celebrated his 57th year of studio practice; and it brought a change in his work; with more focus on colour, visual texture and media, and bypassing the idea of a subject.