Fernand Leduc

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Fernand Leduc

1916 - 2014

A Quebec native, Fernand Leduc was a major figure in Canada’s emerging modern art scene, and he was a contemporary of other important mid-twentieth century Canadian abstract artists, such as Jean Paul Riopelle and Paul-Émile Borduas. From 1938 to 1943 Leduc studied at the École des beaux-arts in Montreal, where he met Borduas.

Leduc had been exhibiting with the Automatist group as early as 1943, and was one of the signatories of the 1948 Refus global manifesto, a historical document that signaled an important cultural shift in Quebec. In 1947, Leduc moved to Paris, and while there organized an Automatist exhibition in that city. He returned to Montreal in 1953. He was a founding member of the Association des artistes non-figuratifs de Montréal, and in 1956 became its president.

During the Automatist period from 1946 to 1952, Leduc’s abstract work was based on gestural writing. By the early 1960s, his work had become hard edge and geometrical. Light and colour became of paramount importance to him, and he strove to simplify his paintings to increase their intensity. His use of bright colour and strong shapes made his paintings dynamic and forceful. Leduc was inspired by Josef Albers, who created light in his paintings through pigment, and Leduc stated that his greatest challenge since 1970 was to manifest a sensation of light and energy in his own work.

Leduc returned to Paris in 1959, but came back to Canada between 1970 and 1974 to teach.

His works have been included in solo and group shows in major institutions such as the Musée du Québec in Quebec City, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris and the Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal. A major retrospective of his work was held in France at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Chartres in 1985. In 1979 he was awarded the Louis-Philippe Hébert Prize and in 1988, the Paul-Émile Borduas Prize.

After living for many years in Paris and Italy, Leduc returned to Montreal in 2006, and died there in 2014.