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Francine Savard

Canadian, born 1954

© 2010 Francine Savard

Le Verdict (Kafka), 2010

Acrylic on canvas mounted on canvasboard
4 x 76 inches (10.2 x 193 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman, by exchange, 2011

Francine Savard’s practice is rooted in the Plasticien tradition—a Canadian, non-figurative painting movement begun in the 1950s—and she often draws on the realm of painting as her primary source. A Man Asleep (Perec), 2010, and Le Verdict (Kafka), 2010, are part of a recent body of work that reflects Savard’s ongoing interest in the relationships between language, form, and color. In these works, she translates the first sentences of novels into painted spectrums, whose colors correspond to specific words. Words that are similar or can be grouped together, grammatically or conceptually, receive the same color. Sections representing each word, sized according to the words' lengths, are strung together to create a new form. Savard takes this process a step further by engaging with each opening phrase in both French and English, choosing from among many translations and working out the delicate relationship between the two languages. Reminiscent of the painter Tim Bavington’s painterly translations of iconic rock-and-roll songs of the 1960s, Savard’s work is a further example of a process that is rooted deeper than just applying paint to the canvas and reflects a multidisciplinary, conceptual process.

More about the artist

Francine Savard was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1954. She received a Graduate Certificate in Graphic Design from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1979, and an MA in Visual Arts from L'Université du Québec à Montréal in 1994. Savard gained critical notice with her first solo exhibitions—including La chambre à peinture at Galerie B-312 Émergence (1997); “Muséumification” at Montréal Télégraphe (2001); Un plein un vide at Galerie René Blouin (2002); Vol d’un carré de toile at Galerie René Blouin and A Square of Canvas at Toronto’s Sable-Castelli Gallery (both 2004); and Suite at Diaz Contemporary, Toronto (2008)—as well as numerous group exhibitions. Most recently, in 2009–10, a mid-career retrospective exhibition of Savard’s work was organized by the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. Her work is held in a number of museum collections across Canada, including Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa. The Albright-Knox is the first museum in the United States to acquire her work. Savard currently lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.