Artwork by Marcelle Ferron,  Titre indéterminé (Librairie tranquille)

Marcelle Ferron
Titre indéterminé (Librairie tranquille)

oil on board
dated 1949 on the reverse
9.75 x 14.5 ins ( 24.8 x 36.8 cms )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$12,000.00 - $15,000.00

Price Realized $31,200.00
Sale date: December 1st 2022

Galierie Simon Blais, Montreal (Inventory No. 166)
Private Collection, Montreal
“Ferron-Hamelin”, Librairie Tranquille, Montreal, 15-30 January 1949
“Marcelle Ferron rétrospective 1947-1999”, Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal, 7 May‒28 June 2008
Raymond-Marie Léger, “Exposition Ferron-Hamelin”, Le Quartier Latin, 28 January 1949, page 4
François-Marc Gagnon, “Chronique du mouvement automatiste québécois 1941-1954”, Montreal, 1998, pages 590-594
“Marcelle Ferron”, Éditions Simon Blais, Montreal, 2008, page 11, reproduced page 48
Jean De Julio-Paquin, “Marcelle Ferron, Une femme éprise de liberté”, Vie des arts, été 2008, pages 52-55, reproduced
Roald Nasgaard and Ray Ellenwood, “Automatiste Revolution: Montreal, 1941-1960”, Toronto, 2009, page 36, reproduced page 48
Ray Ellenwood, “Égrégore: Une histoire du mouvement automatiste de Montréal”, Montreal, 2014, pages 160-161, reproduced
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. Marcelle Ferron was inspired by a new image of the modern artist as someone who assumes a social role. According to art historian Louise Vigneault, “through her support of progressive ideals, her constant renewing of aesthetic and technical parameters and her special connections to Quebec society and culture, [Ferron] would succeed in defining a new artistic identity, based simultaneously on resistance and rootedness.” A female artist at a time when women rarely achieved success in the field, Ferron can be seen as a revolutionary, someone who not only paved the way for a host of later artists but also showed proof of unrivaled political commitment.

“Titre indéterminé (Librairie tranquille)” was painted during the peak years of the Automatistes and the culmination of the creation of the Refus global manifesto. The oil on board painting is alluring and mysterious, composed of seemingly infinite layers of deep blue paint. Ferron has used her characteristic expressive palette knife strokes, creating an animated and spontaneous abstract image. Pigments of blue, green, purple and black are layered and then scraped off, revealing a mottled appearance recalling the view into a deep ocean.

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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.