Jean McEwen  (Canadian, 1923-1999) 

Jean McEwen (Canadian, 1923–1999), known for being in the forefront of Canadian Abstract painting, was born in Montréal. While studying pharmacy at the University of Montréal in 1944, he wrote poetry and had his works published in literary journals. His artistic interests changed in 1946, when he saw The Moon and Sixpence—a film about Paul Gaugin (French, 1848–1903)—and decided that painting and poetry were equal forms of expression. Inspired by the film, he taught himself to paint in a Figurative style while still pursuing his degree. He met the Abstract painter Paul Emile Borduas (Canadian, 1905–1960) in 1949, who became a great influence on McEwen’s life and artistic style. The 1950s were a time of great change and growth for McEwen; he went to Paris for a year in 1951, where he met the artists Jean-Paul Riopelle (Canadian, 1923–2002) and Sam Francis (American, 1923–1994), and was introduced to the works of Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956). Upon his return to Montréal, he transitioned into removing all figures from his work. Working at a pharmaceutical company during the day, he still continued to gain momentum in the art world. He was exhibited in an avant-garde group show at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, and became a member and later president of the Non-Figurative Artists of Montréal (AANFM). In the 1960s, he painted the five panel mural Rouge en Liesse at the Toronto International Airport, began working in watercolors, and created his renowned series Les drapeaux inconnus (Unknown flags). In 1965, he started to use acrylics almost exclusively, and didn’t go back to oils until 1970. During the 1970s, McEwen quit his pharmaceutical job to focus solely on his art. He was awarded the Victor Lynch-Staunton, traveled to Paris for the second time, and when he returned to Canada, began lecturing at two different universities. His first retrospective took place in 1987 at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. He died suddenly in 1999, a year after receiving the highest artistic award in Québec, the Paul-Emile Borduas Prize.

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Jean McEwen, Celulle Noire


Jean McEwen
Celulle Noire

Waddington & Gorce Inc.
Jean McEwen, Les jardins d'aube


Jean McEwen
Les jardins d'aube

Galerie Simon Blais
Jean McEwen, Laque des pays vastes


Jean McEwen
Laque des pays vastes

Galerie Simon Blais
Past auction results (170)  View All
Jean McEwen, Blue


Jean McEwen
Blue, 1962
watercolor on paper


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Jean McEwen, Les continents fleuris #15


Jean McEwen
Les continents fleuris #15, 1974-1975
oil on canvas


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Jean McEwen, Verticale nocturne


Jean McEwen
Verticale nocturne, 1961
oil on canvas


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1923   Born in Montreal, Canada
1951   Studied Pharmacy at the University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
1956   Became a member of the Montreal Association of Non-figurative Artists, Montreal, Canada
1983 - 1993   Faculty of Fine Art, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
1999   Died in Montreal, Canada
2010 - 2011   Blue, Musée d'art contemporain, Montreal, Canada
2009   Jean McEwen: In Memoriam, Galerie Pangée, Montreal, Canada
2004   Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal, Canada (solo)
Jean McEwen: Last Works, Gallery One One One, Winnipeg, Canada (solo)
2003   Winchester Galleries, Victoria, Canada (solo)
2001   Hommage à Jean McEwen, La Maison Trestler, Vaudreuil, Canada (solo)
Comme une aquarelle / Like an aquarelle, Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal, Canada (solo)
2000   Jean McEwen: A Celebration, Moore Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1998   Poèmes barbares, Simon Blais Gallery, Montreal, Canada
Important Paintings from the 60's and 70's, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Madeline Lacerte Gallery, Montreal, Canada
Peinture-peinture, Montreal, Canada
1995   Madeline Lacerte Gallery, Montreal, Canada
J'ai fait l'amour sur la lumière, Simon Blais Gallery, Montreal, Canada
Jean McEwen, Aquarelles 1985-1995, Museum of Fine Arts Montreal, Canada (solo)
1992   The Crisis of Abstraction, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
1987   Jean McEwen: Colour in Depth, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (solo)
Histoire en quatre temps, Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal, Canada
1985   Six manières, un langage, Museum of Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Waddington & Gorce Gallery, Montreal, Canada
1982   Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto, Canada (solo)
1979   Mira Godard Gallery, Calgary, Canada
1976   Trois génération d'art québécois, Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal, Canada
1975   Les continents fleuris (Continents in Bloom), Marlborough Godard Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1974   Thirteen Artists from Marlborough Godard, Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY
1961   Gallery Moos, Toronto, Canada (solo)
1951   Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal, Canada (solo)
  The Contemporary Museum of Montreal, Montreal, QC
  National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
  Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
  Art Gallery of Ontario/Museum, Toronto, ON
  Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC
  The Quebec Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec City, QC
  Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
  Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN