Historic Art | Rita Letendre R.C.A.

Echno nocturne 1960 oc 18

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Echo Nocturne, 1960

Technique: oil on canvas

Dimensions: 18.75x25 in.

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Echo Nocturne is a work that represents developments in the automatic painting techniques of Letendre’s early career. Many of her pieces from the 1950s were painted in abstracted grids, these pieces highly energetic and lyrical. By 1960, her style had begun to develop and her compositions became more minimal and highly contrasted. Echno Nocturne makes use of powerful gestural strokes with a limited colour palette to create a tense and powerful composition. This piece represents Letendre’s deep understanding of light and color to create produce powerful work, on which she states “light and colour, and sometimes the absence of colour, have always been the key elements in my painting. With its different values, colour reflects the shades of life.”

About the Artist

Rita Letendre, painter, printmaker (b at Drummondville, Qué 1 Nov 1928). After study at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, Letendre was influenced by Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes. In 1962 she travelled in western Europe and Israel. Her new interest in more structured composition and simpler shapes was seen in her 1965 outdoor mural commission in Long Beach, Calif, where she lived (1965-70) with her sculptor husband Kosso Eloul before moving to Toronto. There her painting became more austere, with large geometric forms and vibrant colour. Letendre is well known for her monumental interior and exterior murals. Her work has been included in the exhibitions Achieving the Modern at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (1992), and La crise d'abstraction, les années 1950, at the National Gallery of Canada (1992). In 2003 she was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Musée du Québec.

In 2002, Rita Letendre was awarded the Order of Quebec and in 2005 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. She was named a winner of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2010.

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