Elliott Louis Gallery Canadian Fine Art

Marcel Barbeau  Bio  ·     ·  Exhibitions:   Vertiginous Limits

Painting for me is a necessity.  As much an act of liberty and passion as it is an act of joy.  My works are never fully planned beforehand; they are projections towards the future, invitations to go beyond until they fullfill their final form.

My most recent works set themselves apart from the current trends in visual arts, which generally reject such notions as beauty and transcendence.  If I had to name a domain that I feel close to, it would have to be new deconstuctivist architecture because of the complexity of its expression.

Starting from simple lines and forms with pure colors, I seek to create shifting images of lightweight structures involving their own deconstruction and metamorphosis.  Unlike the constructivists whose approach was based on science and reason, my "anaconstructions" stem from an organic articulation of space that is life-like in its complexity; transcends rationality and appeals to a sense of passion, to a sense of magic and wonder - much like my automatist works from the 1940's and early 1950's.

Experimenting as I do, my creations are like gifts that are given to me.


Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.

Please email the gallery to view more works by Marcel Barbeau.

Marcel Barbeau was born in Montreal on February 18th, 1925. Between 1942 and 1947, he studied painting and sculpture with Paul-Emile Borduas at the Ecole du Meuble in Montréal, where he was a student in furniture design. At that time and until 1953, he regularly visited his master's studio where he met other young artists and intellectuals, all members of the Automatistes. As a member of that major Canadian contemporary art movement, he participated in all exhibitions featuring the group and signed its manifesto,Total refusal. Some art historians consider that he was and remains its most innovative artist. He also was a junior member of Montreal Society of Contemporary Art with which he exhibited between 1945 to 1948.

From 1958 to 1974 and 1991 to 1996, he lived and worked in the United States and in Europe. Visiting new York (1951) and San Francisco (1957), he met with some artists from the Abstract Expressionists movement and the Pacific School. In Paris, he met again with Fernand Leduc from the Automatists' group and he associated with minimalist and cinetic artists from Galerie Iris Clert where he exhibited. Among these artists, Lucio Fontana signed an introduction for his one-man show catalogue at Iris Clert gallery. In New York, Barbeau consorted with members of the french cinetic movement, GRAV (Groupe de recherche d'art visuel), and exhibited with the American op art school throughout the United States. After his retrospective show at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1969, he spent a year in Southern California where he created photography and sculpture projects. While living in France between 1971 and 1974, he started his major series of monumental sculptures and did his first performances. Since then, he shares his time between painting and sculpture. In 1991, he returned to Paris where he then worked for a few months, annually until the spring of 1996. In the fall of that year, he established himself in Bagnolet, a Paris suburb, continuing to visit Canada each summer.

Mainly known as a painter, he has been involved in most visual art Media: drawing, sculpture, print, photography and performance. He has created many monumental works. His art has been exhibited in Canada, in the United States, in Europe and in Northern Africa where he had many one man shows. He has also participated in several international exhibitions. His works have been widely commented on in newspapers, magazines, catalogues and art books published in Canada, France and United States and in a fully illustrated monography, Marcel Barbeau: Fugato/ Le regard en fugue, published by CECA  (Montréal, 1991), and in France at the Cercle d'art (Paris, 1994). He was also the subject of a few  art films and videos among which renown film maker Manon Barbeau’s  Barbeau “Libre comme l’art”. This was a 49 minutes film on his work and career co-produced by  Informaction and National Film Board of Canada (2000).

In 1963, he received the Zack Purchase Prize from the Royal Canadian Academy. In 1973, he was given a Lynch-Staunton Foundation Grant by Canada Council. In 1985, he was awarded the sculpture purchase award of the McDonald Canada Art Competition. He was invited to join the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in August 1992. In 1995, he received the Order of Canada as an officer(?). In 1998, Canada Post reproduced one of his works on a stamp as part of its series in honor of the automatist painters, signatories of the manifesto Total refusal. He was the special guest artist at the 2003 Montreal Jazz Festival which published a limited numbered print, Django Blue, on this occasion.

His works are in many private, public and corporate collections in Canada, in the United States and in Europe among which are: the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the British Museum (London), the Chrysler Art Gallery (Norfolk, Virginia), the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts (Lyon, France), the National Gallery of Canada ( Ottawa), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal), the  Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Montreal), Quebec National  Fine Arts Museum (Quebec), the Rose Art Museum,(Waltham, N.J.) and  the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam).

Marcel Barbeau passed away January 2, 2016 in Montreal.

Solo Exhibitions
2007   Marcel Barbeau and William Armstrong, Virginia Christopher Fine Arts, Calgary, Alberta, November.
2006   Vertiginous Limits, Elliott Louis Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia. April.

Group Exhibitions
2006-2008  Art et Société au Canada 1913-1950, a travelling  exhibtion organized by the National Gallery of
2006   Boîtes de cigares peintes - Collection de Claude Bouchard”, Galerie d’art de l’Alliance française,
2006   Art Reach, une expositiion traveling exhibtion organized by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia                
2006   Explosion of Forms and Textures: Quebec Art of the 1960s from the Bas-Saint-Laurent Museum,
               Triangle Gallery, Calgary
2006   Quebec Connection, Summer Art Stroll coordinated by the Triangle Gallery, Calgary
2006-2007   Children's Corner / Le coin des enfants, Galerie Bellemare, Montreal
2007   Barbeau, Goodwin, Hurtubise et Serra, Galerie Bellemare, Montreal              
2007   Démystifier l’art,/Demystifyaing Art : L’abstraction au Québec hier et aujourd’hui, Galerie d’art Stewart
               Hall, Pointe-Claire, Québec
2007   Rétrospective des 25 ans du Symposium international d'art contemporain de Baie Saint-Paul,
               Centre d’exposition de Baie Saint-Paul, Baie Saint-Paul, Québec

Public and Corporate Collections

Agence de coopération culturelle et technique de la Francophonie, Paris
Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Quebec Archives, Quebec
UQAM Archives, Montreal
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough, Ontario
Montreal  Art Collection, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Art Bank, Canada Art Council, Ottawa, Ontario
Montreal Public Library, Montreal, Quebec
Canada National Library, Ottawa
Carleton University, Ottawa
France National Library , Paris
Quebec National Library, Montreal
Jacques Doucet Library, France National Library , Paris
British Museum, London
Baie Saint-Paul Exhibition Centre
Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginie, U.S.A
Confederation Centre of the Arts, Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, Prince Edouard Island
Loan Collection, Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec
Canada Art Council, Ottawa, Ontario
City of Joliette, Joliette, Quebec
City of Saint-Laurent (Hôtel de ville), Saint-Laurent, Quebec
City of Lachine (Marina de Lachine), Lachine, Quebec
Dalhousie Art Gallery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova-Scotia
École des Hautes études commerciales, University of Montreal, Montreal
Greater Victoria Art Gallery, Victoria, BritISH-Columbia
UQAM Gallery, University of Quebec in Montreal, Montreal
Hart House, University of Toronto, Ontario
Canadian Institute, Quebec
Istituto Culturale e l'Arte, Catania, Italy
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, Ontario
Lamton Gallery, Sarnia, Ontario
Laurentian University Museum and Art Centre, Sudbury, Ontario
Hôtel des Postes, Laurier Museum, Victoriaville, Québec, Canada
Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal
Lethebrige Art Gallery, University of Lethebridge, Alberta
London Art Gallery and Museum, London, Ontario
Mc Gill University, Montreal, Quebec
Mc Intosh Art Gallery, Western University, London Ontario
Mc Inzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan
McLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Toronto
Memorial University Art Gallery, Saint-John, Newfoundland
Ministry of External Affairs of Canada, Ottwa, Ontario
Montreal  Contemporary Art Museum, Montreal, Quebec
Musee a"Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
Acadian Art Museum, University of  Moncton, New-Brunswick
Joliette Museum of Art, Joliette, Quebec
Mont-Saint-Hilaire Museum of Art, Quebec
Civilisation Museum, Quebec, Quebec
North Coast Museum, Sept-Îles, Quebec
Lachine Musuem, Lachine, Quebec
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Lyon Museum of Fine Arts, Lyon, France
Montreal Fine-Arts Museum, Montreal, Quebec
Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts, Sherbroke, Quebec
Bas St-Laurent Museum , Rivière-du-Loup, Québec
Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec, Quebec
La viellePulperie (Saguenay-Lac St-Jean Museum), Chicoutimi, Quebec
Louis-Émond Museum, Péribonka, Quebec
Rimouski Regional  Museum, Rimouski, Quebec, Canada
Charlevoix Regional  Museum, La Malbaie, Canada.
National Gallery, Washington (DC)
New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New-Brunswick
Nova Scotia Art Gallery and Museum, Halifax
Nickle Art Museum, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Owen Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New-Brunswick
Robert Mc Lauglin Art Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario
Rodman's Hall Arts Centre Collection, Saint-Catherine, Ontario
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec
Simon Fraser Museum, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Holland
Stratford Art Gallery, Stratford , Ontario
The Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia
The Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Toronto City Corporation (Hôtel de ville), Toronto, Ontario
University of  Moncton, Moncton, New-Brunswick
University of  Montreal
Universitéy of  Sherbrooke
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
Windsor Art Gallery, Windsor, Ontario


Aird and Berlis, Toronto, Ontario
Banque Nationale, Montreal, Queybec
Bombardier  Inc, Montreal, Quebec
Deloitte & Touche, Toronto, Ontario
Éditions Gaétan Morin, Montreal, Quebec
Esso Resources, Calgary, Alberta
Fédération des caisses populaires et d'économie Desjardins, Leyvis,
Gaz métropolitain, Montreal, Quebec
General Electric Canada Limited, Mississaugua, Ontario
Gottlieb and Parson, New York City, USA
Harel, Drouin & Associés, Montreal, Quebec
INCO, Toronto, Ontario
Industrielle-Alliance, Montreal, Quebec
Loto-Quebec, Montreal
McDonald's Restaurants Canada, Toronto, Ontario
Norcen Resources Ltd, Calgary, Alberta
Power Corporation, Montreal, Quebec
Reader's  Digest Canada, Montreal, Quebec.
Richard Brown Baker, New York City, New York
Union-Vie, Drummondville, Quebec
Shell Canada Limited, Calgary, Alberta
Spectra, Montreal
Teleglobe Canada inc., Montreal, Quebec
Via Rail, Montreal, Quebec.

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