Marcel Barbeau funeral: family, dignitaries pay homage

Family, artists and dignitaries paid their respects to abstract art pioneer Marcel Barbeau at his funeral Saturday.

Barbeau died Jan. 2 at 90 years old and continued to paint up to and including his final days

Marcel Barbeau, Marcel Barbeau abstract and non-figurative painter, sculptor and one of the final surviving members of Quebec's mid-century, anti-establishment Automatiste movement, died at the age of 90. (Martin Lipman/Canada Council for the Arts)

Family, artists and dignitaries paid their respects to abstract art pioneer Marcel Barbeau at his funeral Saturday.

Barbeau died at 90 years old on Jan. 2 and continued to paint up to and including his final days, leaving behind over 4,000 works of art.

Saturday's service was attended by family members including Barbeau's daughter and grandson. 

The ceremony included poetry, singing and displays of some of Barbeau's work of art.

Manon Barbeau, daughter of pioneer abstract artist, said her father's colours "reflected the joy he had when he painted." (Radio-Canada)

Manon Barbeau, his daughter and a filmmaker, said the service "was both serious and light."

"His colour reflected the joy he had when he painted," Barbeau said as she looked up at one of her father's paintings.

The director of Quebec City's national museum of fine arts announced at the ceremony that a major retrospective of Barbeau's work was planned for 2018, spanning the artist's work from 1940 to the day he died. 

Also present were Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Director of the Canada Council for the Arts Simon Brault, and Quebec Minister of Culture Hélène David.

"We can't forget him," said Coderre, "[he's] part of the wonderful signature of Montreal."

"We're here to pay homage one last time, but his work is eternal," Coderre added.

A pioneering artist
Barbeau's Diamants, passerelles d’étoiles (Diamonds, Gateway to the Stars), is an acrylic on canvas dating from 1997, collection of the artist. (Trépanier Baer Gallery, Calgary)

Barbeau was an influential painter and sculptor — in 1995 he was made Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2013 he received Quebec's highest recognition for an artist, the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, as well as the Governor General's Award in Visual Arts.

In addition to Barbeau's extensive accomplishments in the art world, he was also one of the early signatories of the Refus global manifesto, which argued for greater freedom of expression and a more open education system and a breaking of tradition and the Catholic Church. 


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