Fernand Leduc by Pierre Gauvreau, 1942-43
Fernand Leduc was born in Montreal in 1916. Leduc studied at the École des beaux-arts in Montreal (1938-43), eventually finding himself in contact with Pierre Gauvreau, Françoise Sullivan, attracted by their discussions about modern art.
During the time that he studied at the École des beaux-arts, modern art was highly derided: “We were told Matisse couldn’t paint…Picasso couldn’t draw…and then there was a Borduas exhibition…and for all of us, it was a complete revelation”. Paul-Émile Borduas’ exploration of Surrealist theories and abstraction opened the door to a freedom of expression embraced by Leduc and other young artists who would sign the Refus global in 1848.
Leduc moved to Paris in 1947 and has lived there for most of his life, returning only periodically to Quebec. As he had contributed to the theoretical discussions in Montreal with his articles in Le Quartier latin and exhanges with Breton, in Paris he continued to participate actively in heated Surrealist debates. At the same time, he began the writings of Raymond Abellio, a novelist and a theoretician engaged with numerical systems. As a consequence, Leduc abandoned Automatiste spontaneity in order to accent harmony and structure, and to firm up his geometry. He eventually joined the Plasticien movement in 1955.
Explaining his passage from 1940s automatism to the geometric abstraction of the 1950s, Leduc said, ‘I am attracted by order rather than the fluid appearance of form. It’s more important to discover order’.
In 1956, he became the founding of Montreal and participated in an exhibition at l’Actuelle, the first gallery in Canada dedicated to nonrepresentational art.
Source: Anne Newlands, Canadian art from its beginnings to 2000, Firefly, Canada, 2000; Roald Nasgaard, Abstract painting in Canada, Douglas&McIntyre, Canada, 2007