Renée Van Halm was born in Amsterdam in 1949 and came to Canada in 1954. She spent two decades in Toronto before moving to Western Canada, where she trained at the Vancouver School of Art, graduating in 1975. She then moved to Montreal and completed her master's degree in Fine Arts at Concordia University. In 1978 she moved back to Toronto, where she was involved in setting up and working as a curator and director of the artist-run centre Mercer Union.
In the early part of her career, Van Halm was interested in creating forms that were hybrids of many media, not purely painting, sculpture, or architecture. The evolution of her subject and medium has led her to consider the many forms of visual presentation in our culture. In her efforts to uncover how value is ascribed, she looks at painting as well as commercial advertising and public display.
Over the years Van Halm's work has moved from a concern with formalist practices to ideas about cultural construction. She has come to rely less on making lush, painterly objects and more on creating subtly coloured surfaces and structures. Van Halm lives in Vancouver and teaches at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design.