Rita Letendre

Rita Letendre is an abstract painter who made a name for herself both in Canada and internationally throughout the second half of the 20th century. Born in Drummondville to a Quebecois mother and an Aboriginal father, she studied at the École de Beaux-Arts in Montreal, and  in the early 1950’s, she began her career as an artist, alongside Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes; a collective of Quebec artists influenced by the surrealist movement and their theory of automatism. A few years after her debut, her style evolved, and was likely influenced in part by the Plasticien movement. As a departure from the purely instinctual and loose style of her previous work, while still very much abstract, Letendre’s paintings became much more structured and made use of a stronger sense of geometry and vibrant color fields. By the mid 60’s, she begins to experiment more as she develops her dynamic hard edge style and geometric abstraction, and as time goes on, in the 70’s and 80’s, she continues to expand on the techniques and materials she used, by working with everything from oils, acrylic, casein, pastels, airbrushing and screen-printing. That being said, this artist was already gaining attention and recognition from both Canadian and international audience in the U.S. by the early 60’s, exhibiting in museums and galleries such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1961. By the 70’s, she was considered one of the major Canadian artists of that time. Throughout her career, she has received a variety of awards and honors, such as being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, and receiving the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2010. Today, her works are still being exhibited all around North America; last year, she had a retrospective show at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Her works are also part of multiple major collections such as one from the Musée d’art contemporain of Montreal, the National Art Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the Art Gallery of Vancouver just to name a few.