After a long hiatus from painting and a few brief appearances in 1973, Marcelle Ferron made a powerful return to form in 1975 with a new series of works on paper. These pieces, together with a thorough exploration of stained glass during a sojourn in France—which yielded three large‑scale projects in Montreal in 1979—lent a new style and distinctive craftsmanship to the paintings she would make toward the end of the 1970s. La joie de voir, produced in 1979, perfectly embodies this new pictorial style. The verticality of the canvas, characteristic of many works from this period, suggests a gestural assurance and conveyance of total freedom. Three hanging folds of colour—in gold, turquoise, and cobalt blue—bend and undulate gently, revealing two milky openings in the painting’s lower half. Black calligraphic markings, reminiscent of Japanese or Chinese kanji characters, stitch together these gaps, and swirl into a nascent flame whose texture is vigorously applied with a palette knife. The metallic paint, seen here in shades of gold and bronze, appeared a few years earlier in some of Ferron’s works on paper, evincing the artist’s ongoing quest for luminosity. A sumptuous and glowing work of art, its freshness and sensuality set La joie de voir apart from other works of this period. This is a unique opportunity to acquire a work worthy of the greatest collections.
Ferron, the young artist from Louiseville whom author Louise Vigneault deemed “part artist, part warrior,” occupied an enviable place within the Automatistes movement, and in 1948 added her voice to the Refus global manifesto. In so doing, Marcelle Ferron cemented her place in the lineage of women painters, along with Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner, who defied the patriarchal world of abstract painting, and positioned herself as a key figure emblematic of modernity in Quebec. In 1961, Ferron won the silver medal at the São Paulo Biennale. In 1972, she was appointed a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and in 1983 received the prestigious prix Paul‑Émile‑Borduas. Over the course of her career, Ferron took part in several important group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal has honoured her work with two retrospectives: Marcelle Ferron from 1945 to 1970, in 1970, and again in 2000 with Marcelle Ferron, a retrospective 1945‑1997.