Jean Paul Lemieux

1904 - 1990

Born in Quebec City in 1904, Jean Paul Lemieux is among the most important Canadian artists of the 20th century and his work is emblematic of modernism in Quebec. Following studies in Montreal and Paris, he taught at the École des beaux-arts de Québec.  While on sabbatical in 1954, he received a grant from the Royal Society of Canada that allowed him to spend a year in Brittany and on the Côte d’Azur with his wife, Madeleine, and their daughter, Anne. Upon his return to Québec, Lemieux exhibited 28 paintings produced on the Côte d’Azur as part of a solo exhibition presented at Galerie L’Atelier and inaugurated by Gérard Morisset, then curator at the Musée du Québec and a close friend.


At the end of the 1950s, Lemieux’s reputation experienced spectacular growth, both at home and abroad. He was honoured with solo exhibitions in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City, and his works were included in four biennial exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada. The 1960s were a high point in the career of Jean Paul Lemieux, who produced some of the most memorable paintings in his vast repertoire during that decade. He represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1960 and, in 1966, became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 1967, he won the Canada Council Medal, and, in 1968, was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada. 


At the heart of this production is the portrait, characterized by the same dramatic and emotional energy that he conferred on his sparse, at times almost abstract landscapes. Lemieux found himself drawn to atypical formats and supports—he considered traditional formats uninspiring—and to a more cinematic framing, which supported a formal rigour bespeaking an intimate worldview, a Weltanschauung. In a few works, such as Québec brûle (1967) and The Aftermath (1968), Lemieux explored his dystopian vision of the world directly, yet kept his stylistic sensibility within reach. Quebec City was a major presence in his life and oeuvre, providing rich symbolism throughout the significant periods of his aesthetic adventure as a painter. The artist also frequently painted nocturnal scenes, including La nuit à Québec-Ouest (1964), Pleine lune 1966), and Orion (1967), not to mention countless deserted fields, which are legion in his work.


His paintings were shown in the context of exhibitions on Canadian art at the São Paolo Biennale, the Brussels World Fair, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Musée Galliera in Paris. 

Past auctions