the modern.toronto is excited to announce a new exhibition of paintings by Françoise Sullivan, Sullivan at the modern. Françoise Sullivan (1923–) was born in Montréal, where she initially studied at the city’s École des beaux-arts. This uniquely multifaceted artist first gained renown as a dancer and choreographer, moved to sculpture and conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s, and then made a return to painting in the 1980s, a practice she continues to this day. Along with Paul-Émile Borduas, she was one of the founding members of the avant-garde Automatiste movement, as well as one of the signatories of its 1948 manifesto Refus global, which included the entire text of Ms. Sullivan’s celebrated lecture on “La danse et l'espoir” [“Dance and Hope”]. Her work has been shown in countless solo and group exhibitions, including at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (1981), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (1993) and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2003). She was awarded the Paul-Émile Borduas Prize in 1987 and is the recipient of two honorary degrees. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is currently organizing a retrospective of her work, which will open in the fall of 2018.
the modern.toronto est heureux d'annoncer une nouvelle exposition de peintures de Françoise Sullivan, Sullivan at the modern. Françoise Sullivan est née en 1923 à Montréal, où elle a reçu une formation à l’École des beaux-arts. Artiste polyvalente et singulière reconnue à l’origine comme danseuse et chorégraphe, elle est passée à la sculpture au cours des années 1960 puis à l’art conceptuel vers 1970. Elle revient à la peinture dans les années 1980, pratique qu’elle poursuit depuis lors. Aux côtés de Paul-Émile Borduas, elle a fait partie des membres fondateurs de l’automatisme. Elle signa en 1948 le Refus global, manifeste de ce mouvement avant-gardiste auquel fut annexé le texte intégral de la célèbre conférence de Mme Sullivan, "La danse et l’espoir" a été inclu, plutôt qu’annexé. Ses œuvres ont fait l’objet d’innombrables expositions individuelles et collectives, notamment au Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (1981), au Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (1993), et au Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (2003). Lauréate du prix Paul-Émile Borduas (1987), elle détient deux diplômes honorifiques. Le Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal organise actuellement une exposition rétrospective, qui aura lieu à l’automne 2018.
The exhibit surveys Sullivan’s prolific nearly 40-year painting career featuring 17 paintings from 1980 to paintings completed this past year. In addition, there are seven black and white photographs from the 1940s documenting her famous dance performance Danse dans la Neige (Dance in the Snow). The exhibit begins with Sullivan’s return to painting with Tondo 6 (1980) after spending the ‘60s and most of the ‘70s constructing large-scale welded metal sculptures. The Tondo series are circular canvases that have been cut and reassembled, combining Sullivan’s sculptural investigations with her renewed painting interests. The second gallery includes two painting from 2015’s Proportio series, with diagonals of muted colors juxtaposed by the squares and rectangles of blues in the diptych Blue/Bloom (2016). Océan no.2, from the Océan series of 2005-2006, continues the slight variations of a field of shimmering blue hues. Sullivan’s 2016 series Only Red concludes the exhibit with an intensive exploration into an increasingly limited and repetitive range of reds making a direct appeal to the viewer’s senses. Danse dans la Neige (Dance in the Snow) was originally envisioned as one installment in a four-part piece on the four seasons in which Sullivan would improvise while interacting with the elements. Performed in silence except for the sounds of nature, her breathing and the crunch of the snow, and without an audience, it was captured on film and in photographs. Sullivan eschewed the rigid and formulaic movements of classical dance, which she was accomplished at, for more improvisational expressive and unconstrained gestures and emotions — not unlike her painting — one art process informs the other art process.
At 93 years young, Sullivan is known for her immersive large-scale paintings. Sullivan at the modern explores her more intimately sized paintings. Sullivan’s deceptively minimal color abstractions resonate with an interior energy of emotions and poetic gestures delicately nuanced in colour and form. The glow emanating from deep within each canvas brings forth a tenuous harmonization.
About the Artist
Françoise Sullivan was born in Montréal in 1929, where she initially studied at the city’s École des beaux-arts. Along with Paul-Émile Borduas, Sullivan was one of the founding members of the avant-garde Automatiste movement, as well as one of the signatories of its 1948 manifesto Refus global (Total Refusal), which included the entire text of Sullivan’s celebrated lecture La danse et l'espoir (Dance and Hope). By the 1950s she was focused on dance and choreography. In the ‘60s and ‘70s she was making sculptures, and while never fully abandoning painting, it was not until the late ‘70s that Sullivan returned to abstract painting. She is in several museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the National Gallery of Canada; the Art Gallery of Ontario; and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. Solo and retrospective exhibits include the Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal, 2018; Art Gallery of Ontario, 2010; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2003; and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, 1993. Sullivan was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s major 20th century summary exhibition, On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, 2011. She was awarded the Paul-Émile Borduas Prize in 1987 and is the recipient of two honorary degrees.
Opening reception photography by Charlotte Giacomelli.