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Rita Letendre, renowned as a pioneer of Canadian abstract art, dead at 93


TORONTO — Rita Letendre, renowned as a pioneer of Canadian abstract art, has died.

Gallery Gevik in Toronto says Letendre died Saturday at age 93 after a long illness.

The painter, muralist and printmaker rose to prominence in the 1950s for her association with Quebec's influential abstract artist groups, Les Automatistes and Les Plasticiens.

She continued to experiment with form and technique throughout her career, setting herself apart with her bold palette and geometric style, as exemplified by her recurring motif of arrows.

Letendre also had a hand in shaping Toronto's public art, receiving commissions for large-scale projects including a mural at Ryerson University and the stained-glass skylights of Glencairn subway station.

Her works have been exhibited around the globe, and she racked up honours including a 2010 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Paul-Émile-Borduas Award in 2016.

Letendre was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005 as "one of the leading figures of contemporary painting in Canada."

Her works are in the collections of numerous institutions, including the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press