Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Canadian artist- ARCA, Associated with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Marc-Aurèle Fortin

Marc-Aurèle Fortin was a Canadian painter, born on March 14th, 1888 in Sainte-Rose. This region was a hub for artists at the time, with other famous painters such as Clarence Gagnon and Adrien Hebert also living there. Despite paternal opposition to a career as an artist, Fortin began his studies at the Montreal Catholic Commercial Academy and later continued at the "Ecole du Plateau", where Clarence Gagnon had also studied. He then pursued his apprenticeship at the Monument National under the direction of Edmond Dyonnet, following in the footsteps of Clarence Gagnon. Fortin then moved to the United States to complete his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was offered a position as a professor of drawing at the age of 21. However, he refused the offer and returned to Quebec.

Fortin aimed to create a school of landscape painting that was distinctly Canadian and free from European influence. In 1919, he began to paint trees with watercolours, which he applied using a sponge technique. Clarence Gagnon believed that Fortin had a unique talent for painting trees in a new way that had never been done before. In the early 1920s, Fortin painted watercolours of Ile Ste-Helene, rural landscapes, and Laurentian landscapes. He later began painting large elms in oil. Fortin stated that he "saw nature as he paints it", and that Canadian autumns were the most colourful in the world. Unlike other artists who sketched nature on site, Fortin painted small watercolors which he would bring back to his studio to create oils. Fortin travelled to Europe for a six-month study and observation trip, where he visited Paris, Villefranche, and Rouen, among other places. He continued to experiment with his techniques and developed the "black way" of painting, where he painted the entire surface black before adding colours to create shapes.

In 1940, Fortin entered into an exclusive agreement with a French art gallery. He returned to Gaspesie and painted many landscapes. The casein technique appeared in his work in 1949. Unfortunately, Fortin was taken advantage of by a man named Mr. Archambeault, who sold the painter's works at low prices without his knowledge. Fortin, who had become completely blind, eventually moved to the Macamic sanatorium in Abitibi, where he passed away in 1970. Marc-Aurele Fortin participated in several exhibitions and held solo exhibitions at the Musee du Québec (1944), in the Netherlands (1948), at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1954), and at the National Gallery of Canada (1963). He won the Jessie Dow prize from the Art Association of Montreal (1938), a bronze medal at the New York World's Fair (1939), and was an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy.

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