Marcelle Ferron was a Canadian artist who was born in Louiseville, Quebec, on January 29, 1924, and died on November 19, 2001, in Montreal, Quebec. She was the fifth of six children born to a family of modest means. Ferron’s parents encouraged her artistic interests from a young age, and she began taking art lessons at the age of 12.
Ferron grew up in a family that was passionate about literature, music, and visual arts. Her mother, who was a seamstress, introduced her to sewing and embroidery at a young age, which ignited her interest in working with different textures and materials.
Throughout her career, Ferron remained committed to exploring new forms of artistic expression, experimenting with collage, printmaking, and other mediums. She also remained politically active, supporting the Quebec independence movement and advocating for the rights of artists.
Ferron received numerous awards and honors throughout her life, including the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas in 1981, which is considered the highest artistic honor in Quebec. She was also made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1980.
Ferron never married and had no children. She lived a quiet life in Montreal, devoting herself to her art until her death in 2001 at the age of 77.
Ferron started her formal artistic training in 1942 at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, where she studied under prominent artists such as Jean-Paul Lemieux and Paul-Émile Borduas. It was at this school that she was exposed to modern art movements such as Surrealism and Automatism, which would influence her work for the rest of her career. In 1944, Ferron moved to Montreal and joined the Atelier de l’île, a group of young artists who were experimenting with abstraction and non-figurative art.
Ferron’s early works were influenced by Surrealism and the automatic drawing techniques promoted by the Automatistes, a group of Quebecois artists led by Borduas. However, her work soon evolved into a more abstract expressionist style, characterized by bold lines and gestural brushstrokes. Her use of color was also striking, with bright, contrasting hues that conveyed a sense of energy and movement.
In the 1950s, Ferron turned her attention to stained glass art, which she saw as a way to bring her abstract expressionist style into a more public space. She designed several stained glass windows for churches and public buildings, including the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal and the Saint-Henri-de-Mascouche church in Quebec. Her stained glass work was highly regarded for its innovative use of color and texture, as well as its ability to transform a space with natural light.
Ferron continued to paint throughout her life, and her work evolved to incorporate new techniques and media. In the 1970s, she began experimenting with engraving and etching, producing a series of abstract prints that were characterized by their intricate patterns and organic forms. She also worked in collage, creating pieces that combined painted and cut paper elements to create dynamic compositions.
Throughout her career, Ferron received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to the arts. In 1980, she was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec, and in 1981, she was awarded the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, the highest artistic honor in Quebec. Her work is now part of many public and private collections in Canada and around the world, and she is widely regarded as one of Canada’s most important abstract artists.
Marcelle Ferron was a pioneering figure in the development of abstract art in Canada, and her work continues to inspire and influence artists today. Her innovative use of color, texture, and form, as well as her commitment to bringing art into public spaces, make her a unique and important voice in the history of Canadian art.
Achievements of Marcelle Ferron
Marcelle Ferron was a highly accomplished artist, and her achievements spanned multiple mediums and styles. Here are some of her notable achievements:
- Pioneer of abstract art in Canada: Ferron was one of the earliest artists in Canada to embrace abstraction and non-figurative art. She was a member of the Atelier de l’île, a group of young artists in Montreal who were experimenting with abstract expressionism in the 1940s.
- Stained glass artist: Ferron was also a highly regarded stained glass artist, and she designed many windows for churches and public buildings throughout Quebec. Her stained glass work was noted for its innovative use of color and texture, as well as its ability to transform a space with natural light.
- Printmaker: In the 1970s, Ferron began experimenting with printmaking, and she produced a series of abstract prints characterized by intricate patterns and organic forms. Her print work was highly regarded for its technical skill and innovative use of the medium.
- Collage artist: Ferron also worked in collage, creating pieces that combined painted and cut paper elements to create dynamic compositions. Her collage work was noted for its use of texture and color, as well as its exploration of the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space.
- Award-winning artist: Ferron received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas in 1981, which is considered the highest artistic honor in Quebec. She was also made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1980.
- Widely collected: Ferron’s work is now part of many public and private collections in Canada and around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Quebec City.
Auction of Marcelle Ferron Paintings
In May 2020, a large abstract painting by Ferron titled “Sans titre” (Untitled) sold for over CAD 1.5 million at Heffel Fine Art Auction House in Toronto, setting a new record for the artist’s work. The painting, which measures 48 x 68 inches, was created in 1961 and features bold swaths of color against a dark background.
Another major work by Ferron, a large stained glass window titled “L’Eau et la Terre” (Water and Earth), sold for CAD 260,000 at Waddington’s Auction House in Toronto in 2019. The window was created for the Bibliothèque de la Ville de Montréal in 1966 and features a stunning abstract design in shades of blue, green, and purple.
These high prices reflect the growing appreciation for Ferron’s work among collectors and art enthusiasts, as well as her important place in Canadian art history.