Artwork by Christian Marcel Barbeau,  Le rouge et le noir

Marcel Barbeau
Le rouge et le noir

oil on canvas
signed, titled and dated 1963 on a label on the stretcher
32 x 39.5 ins ( 81.3 x 100.3 cms )

Sold for $11,500.00
Sale date: May 25th 2017

Private Collection, Ottawa
Ann Davis, Marcel Barbeau: Works from 1957-1989, Kaspar Gallery, Toronto, 1989, unpaginated
During the 1960s, Barbeau was influenced by the Automatistes and European minimalist modernism. Favouring limited colour palettes of no more than three colours, all with uniform hues, the arrangement of simplified geometric shapes were explored. Taking the lead from Henri Matisse, Barbeau was also interested in the precise and calculated placement of shape and form on the canvas while maintaining a quality of sporadic chance. Showcased in “Le rouge et le noir”, Barbeau explores the tension between chance and intention through an abstract expressionism rooted in sensations of dimensionality.

Moving away from the all-over abstraction favoured by his Automatiste predecessors, careful control has been employed in the form of the shape and compositional arrangement. The lower portion of the composition is heavy and calm with the solid black form wrapping around the edges of the canvas which balances the more sporadic and energetic red rectangles dancing at the upper edge of the frame. The viewer bears witness to a subtle tension between dimensions combining both freedom and intellect. There is the liberty of the artist to create, but an important cognizant measure to the process, replacing the fervent gesture of the artist with control.

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Christian Marcel Barbeau
(1925 - 2016) Les Automatistes, RCA

Marcel Barbeau - painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, was born in Montreal in 1925. An active member of the Automatistes movement led by Paul-Emile Borduas, Barbeau is a widely exhibited, innovative artist. As well as studying drawing at the Ecole du meuble, Montreal, he worked with Borduas, architect Marcel Parizeau, and art historian Maurice Gagnon. He travelled extensively from 1962-74, living and exhibiting in Paris, New York, and California, and his style changed, moving from the lyrical abstracts of the Automatiste period towards a more geometric mode.

In the late 1970s he returned to the free-form, all-over surface activity that he had favoured before. By 1987, inspired by his sculpture and collages, his painting style changed again, moving back to hard edge forms in highly contrasted colours. He has won many awards, including the 1964 Royal Canadian Academy Zack Award and the 1994 Gold Medal in painting at the Jeux de la Francophonie in Paris.