The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is pleased to present a series of exhibitions showcasing three of Canada’s trailblazing female abstract artists from Quebec.

First up is a retrospective of the work of Francoise Sullivan (b. 1923, Montreal), the firebrand of Quebec modernism, highlight- ing the key role she has played in the development of modern and

contemporary art in Quebec. The exhibition includes over 50 works of art, featuring a diverse mix of painting, sculpture, video, costume and archival materials, and offers an in-depth exploration of some of the milestones
in Sullivan’s career. It is a chance for visitors to discover or rediscover an artist whose major impact on Quebec and Canadian culture deserves to be more fully recognized.

“With Françoise Sullivan, we’re hoping to introduce a leading Canadian artist to a larger audience,” said McMichael Chief Curator Sarah Milroy. “A signatory of the incendiary Refus global manifesto and a member of the famed Automatiste movement, Sullivan was on the vanguard of Quebec art in the 1940s and 1950s, helping to ignite the spark that led to Quebec’s Quiet Revolution. Her fierce creativity and will to experiment mark her as an important figure in Canadian history and art history.”

To complement the works of Françoise Sullivan, the McMichael also presents two related exhibitions showcasing the work of fellow Quebec artists, Rita Letendre (b. 1928, Drum- mondville) and Marie-Claire Blais (b. 1974, Lévis), both of whom are pioneers of Canadian abstract art.

Rita Letendre remains one of the leading abstract artists in Canada, best known for her hard-edge works from the 1960s and 1970s. Her roots lie in Quebec, where she was exposed to the influence of Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes during her student days at the École des beaux-arts. Unlike Sullivan, Letendre was not an official member of the Automatiste movement, but her impulse to embrace freedom of expression mark her as a kindred spirit. In 2016 Letendre was awarded the Paul-Émile Borduas award for her significant contributions to the art of Quebec. Rita Letendre: Earth, Wind & Fire features works from the late 1950s and early 1960s made during a transformative moment in Quebec culture.

Finally, the McMichael will also present the work of Marie-Claire Blais, a leading light of contemporary art in Montreal, in her first major Canadian museum exhibition. Working in the tradition of abstraction pioneered by Françoise
Sullivan, Blais follows in her footsteps, updating the vocabularies of abstraction for the next generation. Like Sullivan, Blais works in many media, from works on paper to canvases that are painted and often cut and draped on walls, as well as free-standing sculpture. The delicacy, intelligence and sophistication of her work set her apart as a leader of Quebec and Canadian art.

“This exhibition is a timely opportunity for us to bring together a trio of important female artists from Quebec,” said Milroy. “Part of our mission is to expose the public to lesser-known areas of Canadian art, and these exhibitions illuminate the important contributions of these artists to the artistic, cultural and political dialogues of twentieth-century Canada.”

Françoise Sullivan opens February 16, 2019 and will remain on view until May 12, 2019. Rita Letendre: Earth, Wind & Fire will be on view during the same period. Marie-Claire Blais: Veils opens March 8, 2019 and will be on view through June 9, 2019.



February 16, 2019 – May 12, 2019

Françoise Sullivan Rita Letendre: Earth, Wind & Fire

March 8, 2019 – June 9, 2019

Marie-Claire Blais: Veils