Françoise Sullivan

"I took up the challenge of making a painting about nothing, a painting dependent on nothing, and that could hold together through nothing more than its inner force, a painting without an image and that would capture attention.

– Françoise Sullivan, 2003

The multi-disciplinarian Françoise Sullivan has created works of dance, painting, sculpture, conceptual art and poetry. A co-signatory of Borduas’s Refus Global, Sullivan’s early choreographic works are considered the precursors of post-modern dance in Québec.

After completing her studies in 1944 at Montréal’s École des Beaux-Arts, Sullivan went to New York, where she studied modern dance under Franziska Boas and Martha Graham. In the 1960s, she concentrated on sculpture, for example Untitled aluminum sculpture, apprenticing under Armand Vaillancourt and Louis Archambault. After experimenting with conceptual art in the 1970s, she ultimately returned to painting. She began with representational work based on Greek myths and later moved towards large-scale monochromatic abstractions.

Françoise Sullivan is a recipient of the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas and the Order of Canada. Her work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. She won the Governor General’s Award in 2005.

Photo: Martin Lipman