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 Marcella Maltais  (1933 - )

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Lived/Active: Quebec/Ontario / Greece/France/Canada      Known for: abstract painting, illustration, mixed media, writing

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Marcelle Maltais is primarily known as Marcella Maltais

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Marcella Maltais (1933) (1)

A prominent Canadian painter, illustrator, and author, Marcella Maltais (AKA: Marcelle Maltais) was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec. Since 1960 she has divided her time between Paris, France; Hydra, Greece; and Quebec City. Her works have been included in numerous important exhibitions and they're in several prominent museum collections such as the National Gallery of Canada. (2)

Maltais' mediums include oils, watercolors, gouache*, ink, sepia*, crayon, collage* and mixed mediums. Her subjects include portraits, landscapes, street scenes, interiors, figures, still life and genre*; and as an abstractionist - shape, color and texture. In Canada, she is probably best known for the Abstract Expressionist* and Lyrical Abstractionist* works she created in the 1950s and 1960s. Since 1968 her styles have been primarily Fauvism*, Figurative* Expressionism* and Realism*. Her oeuvre is well illustrated by AskART images. (3)

Her formal art education includes children's classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Quebec City from 1946 to 1949 and part-time regular classes there from 1950 to 1954; she studied under Jean-Philippe Dallaire, Jean-Paul Lemieux and Jean Soucy (1915 - 2003). Her other influences and associates in the 1950s included Paul-Emile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Rita Letendre. (4)

Maltais' education includes a large component of travel. She visited Paris for the first time in 1958 and spent a year there painting and, as noted above, she returned to live in Paris and subsequently in Hydra. She also had extended visits to Cappadocia, Turkey (1961); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1968); Rome, Italy (1970 - 1971); Mali (1972); Leningrad, USSR (1981 - 1985); and Moscow, USSR (1981 - 1985). (5)

She was a member of the Non Figurative Artists' Association of Montreal* (1956 - 1961) and exhibited with them frequently. Her work was also exhibited in the Spring Shows at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from 1958 to 1964; and, since it's opening in 1965, her works have been included in eleven group exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art including "Panorama of Painting in Quebec: 1940 - 1955" (1967); "Panorama of Painting in Quebec: 1955 - 1966" (1967); "Quebec Painters 1960 - 1970 " (1973); "The Arts of Quebec" (1974); "Three Decades of Quebec Art: 1940s, 1950's, 1960's" (1976); and "The Lavalin Collection" (1994).

Her work was also featured in three Biennials of Canadian Painting at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa  (1959, 1963 and 1965); in "Aspects of Canadian Painting", Canada House, New York (1959); the Guggenheim International Awards Exhibition, New York City (1960); the Stratford Festival, Ontario (1961); "Exposition of Two Worlds", Spoleto, Italy (1962); and in the Paris Biennial (1964).

More recently, her paintings were in "Quebec Art: Road to Abstraction", University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta (1990); "What is Right with Canadian Art?", University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta (2000); and in "The School of Women: 50 Canadian Artists", Joliette Art Museum, Quebec (2003).

She had her first solo show in 1955 at the Palais Montcalm, Quebec. Since then she's had solos at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts [with sculptor François Soucy (1929 - 2007)] in 1958; the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec City in 1968; and at the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris in 1972, 1978 and 1986.

Her works have also frequently been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such as Galerie D'Art Lavalin, Montreal (retrospective 1989); Galerie L'Actuelle, Montreal; Galerie L'Art Français, Montreal; Galerie Camille Hebert, Montreal; Galerie Denyse Delrue, Montreal; Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal; Dorothy Cameron Gallery, Toronto; Greenwich Art Gallery, Toronto; Gallery Nees Morphes, Athens, Greece; Galerie Arnaud, Paris; and Galerie Pierre Domec, Paris.

Maltais' works are avidly collected in Canada, they are traded on the Canadian auction market, and they're in several museum collections.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, her works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), La Pulperie (Chicoutimi, Quebec), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Musée Pierre-Boucher (Trois-Rivières, Quebec), Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent (Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

Maltais is the author of several books including Notes d'Atelier (1991), L'hotel Creve-Coeur (1995), Rivière-du-Loup: couleur sepia (1997), and Être Superficiel, c'est aussi être profound (2006). (6)

Her honors and awards include a first prize in painting at the Quebec Provincial Exhibition (1955) and three Canada Council* Grants (1960, 1973 and 1976).

(1) Please note: Maltais' birth name is Marcella, however, apparently, she never liked the Quebec French pronunciation of her name with an "a" at the end, so in 1955, at the time of her first solo exhibition, she changed it to Marcelle. However, in 1958, when she visited Paris for the first time, she discovered that Marcella with a Parisian French accent sounded "très joli" (very pretty) so she changed her name back to Marcella; she has been known as Marcella Maltais since then. Source: Maltais' chronology posted by The 2012 Festival of Painting (le Festival de Peinture), Mascouche, Québec.

(2) She briefly lived in Toronto, Ontario in 1955 and in Montreal from 1956 to 1958. Sources: Ibid; and The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (see AskART book references).

(3) Almost all of the Maltais' paintings in Canadian Museums are dated between 1953 and 1966 (as are most of her works illustrated by AskART). Source: Canadian Heritage Information Network*.

(4) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their name, have their own pages in AskART.

(5) Maltais' second husband was a Georgian (USSR) writer and dissident. They met in Leningrad in 1981, were married in Moscow in 1981, and divorced in 1985. Source: Maltais' chronology posted by The 2012 Festival of Painting (le Festival de Peinture), Mascouche, Québec.

(6) All of Maltais' books are in French, no translations or English language versions could be found. - MDS
Benezit Dictionary of Artists (2006), English version (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

E. Benezit Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (1999) (see AskART book references)

A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary (1995), by Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller (see AskART book references)

By A Lady (1992), by Maria Tippett (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 - 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 4, Little - Myles (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art Today (1970), by William Townsend (see AskART book references)

Modern Painting in French Canada (1967), by Guy Viau (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biographical information and museums)

National Gallery of Canada (library and exhibitions records)

Art Gallery of Ontario (exhibition and book summaries online)

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (exhibition summaries online)

The 2012 Festival of Painting (le Festival de Peinture), Mascouche, Québec (chronology)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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