Artwork by Marcelle Ferron,  Sans titre

Marcelle Ferron
Sans titre

oil on canvas
signed and dated 1973 lower left; signed and dated on the reverse

45 x 57 ins ( 114.3 x 144.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $40,000.00$30,000.00 - $40,000.00

Price Realized $49,560.00
Sale date: May 29th 2018

Private Collection, Montreal
Ed. Simon Blais, Marcelle Ferron: Monograph, Montreal, 2008, pages 8, 13 and 20
Marcelle Ferron remained faithful to automatism throughout her career; she was driven by the aesthetic, the solidarity of the group, and especially the teaching of Borduas, who promised her at their first meeting that he would show her how to find the “joy” in her painting. Ferron had undergone an artistic crisis in the period preceding her meeting with Borduas in 1946, and his art and personality had a life-changing and enduring effect on the young painter. A signatory of the Refus Global in 1948, Ferron was one of seven women to sign the manifesto, and one of the youngest to do so, at age twenty-four.

By the mid-1950s Ferron had achieved significant success in Quebec and Canada. She moved to Paris in 1953 and exhibited throughout Europe until 1965. Ferron was granted a silver medal at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1962, which marked the most recognition a female artist from Quebec had ever received. In 1966 Ferron abandoned painting to work in stained glass for several years, she was drawn to creating public art that would reach out to the “ordinary people” she loved so much.

“Sans titre” was created in 1973, marking the first year of Ferron’s return to painting. Curator Réal Lussier writes of her return that “her handling had lost nothing of its expressiveness or energy, nor her palette any of its brilliance: both reflected an unchanged sensibility. Picking up where she had left off, she executed a number of large paintings that generally combined broad contrasting fields of almost monochrome colour with bursts of lively spatula strokes radiating in all directions, almost like the results of an explosion”. This work exemplifies the above statement, as Ferron contrasts wide strokes of complementary shades of green and red on a large canvas. A characteristic that set the artist’s work apart was her consistent preference for structure and shape over line and gesture. While Ferron readily employed the palette knife, her canvases, such as “Sans titre”, appear to be a cohesive arrangement of shapes, and are never graffiti-like or splattered with paint. Art historian Robert Enright comments on the pleasing structure of Ferron’s mature works, stating: “They have an irresistible physical presence and an equally compelling rhythm. The paintings frequently appear to be composing themselves, as if they were made from a deck of cards forever in the process of being reshuffled.”
Secured from a Montreal collection during Consignor’s Spring 2018 Valuation Day Event in the city , “Sans titre” fetched $49,560.00 during the May live auction, exceeding the high end of expectation.

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Marcelle Ferron
(1924 - 2001) Les Automatistes, RCA

Marcelle Ferron was born in Louiseville, Quebec, in 1924. At the age of seven she lost her mother and her father moved the family to the country, hoping the rural environment would be good for his children. Ferron suffered from tuberculosis in early childhood and frequent stays in the hospital forged in her an independent spirit.

Following high school, she studied at the college Marguerite-Bourgeois and then registered at the Quebec Ecole des Beaux-arts. Ferron quit before finishing her studies, finding that the instruction did not fit her idea of modern art. After a few years of experimentation she met Paul-Emile Borduas. He became her mentor and introduced her to a new abstract style of painting. Under his tutelage, Ferron formulated an approach to painting which allowed her to express her own personal vision. In 1946 she joined the group of painters known as the Automatistes. She exhibited with them and began to gain recognition in the art world. When the Automatiste group disbanded in 1953, Marcelle Ferron decided to move to France.

She separated from her husband and left for France with her three daughters. She settled in Clamart, a suburb of Paris, where she lived and kept her studio. She concentrated on painting, making this a very productive period. Full of light, her strong abstract works caught the attention of gallery owners and influential figures in the French art world. Among these was Herta Wescher, who helped her to organize exhibits throughout Europe. In Paris, Ferron also made connections with many other artists, such as Leon Bellefleur and Jean-Paul Riopelle. The period she spent in France was extremely significant for her career as a painter. When she returned to Quebec in 1966 she was an internationally-known artist.

Back in Quebec she met the glass maker, Michel Blum. She found that working with glass allowed her to explore light and colour more fully. In collaboration with a team of glass technicians, she invented a method that allowed her to build walls of light. She inserted antique coloured glass between sheets of clear glass, perfecting a method by which the joints were made invisibly. Her first major glass achievement was the mural for Expo 67. However, it was the glass wall that she created for the Champ-de-Mars metro station that made her known to the Quebec public. These works lead to many glass art commissions for public spaces. During this period Marcelle Ferron also taught architecture and art at the University Laval. She returned to painting around 1985.

In 1983, she was the first woman to receive the Prix Paul-Emile-Borduas. Among her other honours was the silver medal she won at the Sao Paolo Biennieal in Brazil in 1961. The Government of Quebec recognized her contribution to Quebec culture with the Ordre national du Quebec. It should be noted that Marcelle Ferron was an early feminist who, with daring, faced and overcame many obstacles. A woman of integrity, she was devoted to her art, insisting that she did not paint for collectors. Painting, rather, was her passion. She broke ground for women artists in Canada today.

Marcelle Ferron died in 2001. The famous Quebec writers, Jacques Ferron and Madeleine Ferron are her brother and sister.