Canadian artist, R.C.A., Non-Figurative Artists' Association of Montréal, National Order of Canada
The Canadian painter, Rita Letendre, was born in 1928 in Drummondville, a modest Métis family from Quebec and Abenaki. Difficult childhood due to prejudices and poverty, Rita Letendre keeps a difficult memory. Being the oldest and newly settled in Montreal, she has to take care of her younger brothers and sisters while both of her parents work to provide for their financial needs. At the age of 17, she leaves the family home and gets married, is hired in a restaurant as a waitress and between two services she draws portraits of customers.
She completed an academic training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal in 1948. In the company of the painter Ulysse Comptois, Rita Letendre attended an exhibition organized by the automatists. Described by the teachers of the School, Rita Letendre discovered this movement with enthusiasm and convinced her to become a painter. She quickly rejects the traditional figurative model. Rita Letentdre joins the automatism movement, but she quickly develops a new vision, a new clean style. The first exhibitions of Letendre are held with the automatist group. In 1955, she holds her first solo exhibition. In 1959, she won the Prix de la jeune peinture in Quebec and then the Rodolpe de Repentigny Award.
Her solo exhibitions will begin in the 1960s, which critics will call her "shock painter of her generation." At the beginning of the 1960s, she left for Europe on a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, accompanied by Ulysse Comptois. She travels to several countries including Italy and Israel. She meets the sculptor Kosso Eloul and gets married. The months spent abroad are productive and send a lot of work to the Camille Hébert Gallery in Montreal. On his return in 1963, the demand is large and Letendre tries to meet the demand. His works are then composed of heavy impasto and heavy darker and lighter colors.
The University of California commissions a public art mural. The complexity of the project measuring more than 24 feet pushes the artist to realize the effects of light in flat with lighter colors. Thus, the style of Letendre developed on a new technique and will mark a turning point in its creation. She stayed in California for 3 years with her husband Kosso Eloul, where she developed the medium of serigraghie and eaux-strongtes. During these years in the United States she begins to want to get rid of framing which she says hurts the table. She will finish this quest a few years later by creating her own frames.
In 1970, the couple moved to Toronto permanently. She develops the technique with sticky tapes to perfect the lateral lines of her works. She then discovers the aerosol that allows her to obtain the desired effect and characterizes the works of this decade. in 1971, she commissioned a public art commission for a Toronto building, titled Higway Reaching for the Sky, followed by several other public commissions for Ontario, including the Toronto Transit Commission, where she made a gigantic 200-foot stained glass window. length for the Glencairn metro station. Following is an order for Via Rail's transcontinental train.
The Palm Springs Museum Desert Museum dedicates a retrospective in 1974.
In 2004 she received the National Order of Canada, the highest distinction for a visual artist in the country.
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