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November 1, 2023 – February 18, 2024

Françoise Sullivan

“I let rhythms flow”

The year 2023 will mark the 100th year in the life of Françoise Sullivan, a figurehead of modern art and a pioneer of Quebec dance. For the occasion, the MMFA is devoting an exhibition to her that will give the public the chance to discover the artist’s recent paintings, in which she continues to explore the timeless themes of movement and light.

A key figure in the history of Quebec and Canadian art

Born in Montreal in 1923, Françoise Sullivan has had a major influence on the history of art through her contribution to Canadian modern dance and her signing of the manifesto Refus global in 1948 as a founding member of the Automatistes, alongside Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean Paul Riopelle and Marcelle Ferron. She was also a pioneer in Quebec for her exceptional ability to switch from one discipline to another, be it from painting to performance, or from sculpture to photography. This penchant for daring and exploring continues to manifest today in her unwavering production in studio: every day, the nearly 100-year-old artist shows up in front of her canvases, curious to see where the gestures, rhythms, colours and forms will lead her.


Mastery of colour and expressive abstract approach

To mark the artist’s 100th birthday, the MMFA is presenting a selection of recent paintings from a body of work begun in 2022. These artworks are a continuation of the monochromatic paintings she produced at the turn of the 21st century. They also bear formal references to her secondary workshop, located on the shores of the Rivière rouge in the Laurentians. The anchor point of the exhibition is the masterpiece Hommage à Paterson [Homage to Paterson] (2003), a monumental diptych that is emblematic of Sullivan’s painting, which was unveiled to the public at the MMFA’s retrospective of the artist in 2003. The exhibition also draws attention to the important representation of Sullivan’s work – close to fifty artworks – in the Museum’s collection.


In the media

Je laissais les rythmes affluer» est un hommage, une fête et une célébration de la puissance de l’art de Françoise Sullivan.

Sarah-Émilie Nault, Le journal de Montréal

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À 100 ans, parmi lesquelles 80 ans de carrière, ce « trésor national vivant » fait l’objet d’une exposition qui comprend des œuvres récentes d’une pertinence indéniable, reflets de notre époque trouble et tourmentée.

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Marco Fortier
Le Devoir

The centrepiece of the show is a selection of paintings she created over the past two years and the works are in the abstract monochromatic style she first began using in the 1980s.

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The Montreal Gazette logo
Brendan Kelly
Montreal Gazette

[Françoise Sullivan] n’a rien perdu de ce regard aguerri, de ce geste toujours intentionnel, précis et évidemment de cette maîtrise de la couleur qui a fait sa signature.

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ICI Radio-Canada logo
Eugénie Lépine-Blondeau
ICI Radio-Canada Première, Tout un matin

Tout est vibration dans son œuvre. Les matériaux entrent au service de sa pulsion primaire, mouvement à capter, à maîtriser, à faire rugir.

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As the Québécoise artist turns 100, this exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts celebrates her influence on Canadian modern art and dance.

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Millie O'Connor
Apollo Magazine

Françoise Sullivan est une artiste qui a expérimenté plusieurs médiums. On la connaît comme danseuse et chorégraphe [...]. C’est toutefois sa peinture récente, de 2022 et 2023, qui a la part belle au Musée des beaux-arts.

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La Presse + logo
Stéphanie Bérubé
La Presse

Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
The exhibition is curated by Stéphane Aquin, Director of the MMFA, and Florence-Agathe Dubé-Moreau, guest curator.

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Françoise Sullivan. Photo Clara Houeix

Françoise Sullivan (born in 1923), Annunciator of the Moons, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 213.3 x 152.4 cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal. © Françoise Sullivan / CARCC 2023. Photo Guy L’Heureux

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