Rita Letendre, RCA, 1928-

Mistral | Rita Letendre

Mistral | Rita Letendre

Mistral, 1985
Oil on canvas
Size: 30 x 40 inches
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed lower right. Signed, titled and dated on verso.
Framed measurements: Unframed Gallery canvas
Provenance: Private Collection, Nova Scotia; Aviva Art Show (sales receipt)
Condition: Excellent.

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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Rita Letendre is a towering figure in
the history of abstract art in Canada


Rita Letendre was born in Drummondville, in 1928, to a Quebecois mother and a father of Aboriginal origin; she is the eldest of a poor family of seven children.

In 1941, she followed her parents to Montreal and took care of her brothers and sisters before working as a waitress and starting, at the age of 19, brief studies at the Montreal School of Fine Arts.

This rigid and conservative environment was a marked contrast to the one she discovered after meeting Paul-Émile Borduas and his friends, the signatories of the Refus global. This was the beginning of Rita Letendre’s association with the art group Les Automatistes.

Leaving school, and influenced by this avant-garde group imbued with original and modern thought, she created her own style, her very own way of seeing her work. From a figurative style she moved to the abstract, becoming aware that the represented object is not the essential vehicle for emotion.

The exhibit La matière chante, organized by Borduas in 1954, was a turning point for Rita Letendre; it made her known in the art world and gave her confidence in her art.

In the following years, she made many trips abroad. In Italy, she met the Israeli sculptor, Kosso Eloul, who shared her life for thirty years, until his death in the mid-1990s.

New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, San Francisco, Winnipeg, Tel-Aviv, Québec City and Montreal are only some of the locations where the works of Rita Letendre were shown in solo or group exhibits.

She explored several styles and techniques over the years, creating original works — paintings that stand out not only by their lines and colours, but also by their size.

Rita Letendre’s first large-scale work was a 24 by 21 foot mural titled Sunforce (1965), which she created for the University of California at Long Beach and her largest, a work 60 by 60 feet, titled Sunrise (1971) is on the outside wall of the Neill-Wycik Building at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Rita Letendre’s work is a love story of light and colour. Her paintings are distinguished by their intensity and her painting has evolved while maintaining a dominance of light and energy. Her shapes are simple and catch the eye.

She has mastered materials and explored techniques. She works directly on canvas without any intermediary or preparatory steps. She has moved from brush to spatula, to hands, to gouache, to pastels, to airbrush, then to lithography and serigraphy, as well as many other techniques.

Throughout her career, Rita Letendre has received numerous prizes and grants.

Her works can be seen in many private and public collections, including The National Art Gallery of Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal; Art Gallery of Vancouver; and Art Gallery of Ontario.

Rita Letendre was awarded the Order of Canada in 2005 and the Governor General’s Award in 2010.

A major exhibit of her work was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2017.

Sources: Library and Archives Canada; Wikipedia.