René Marcil French-Canadian, 1917-1993


"Intense, luminous and has the quality of combining graphic design, great draftmanship, extraordinary color, fascinating surfaces ... (and) delicate poetic feeling."

– Jean-Pierre Valentin on René Marcil

René Marcil studied at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal as a teenager but soon moved to New York City and then Paris. His studio was on the artistic Left Bank, where he was part of a community of artists including Sonia Delaunay. Marcil’s colourful, semi-abstract works show the influence of Fauvism and Expressionism. Jean-Pierre Valentin described the “delicate poetic feeling” Marcil developed in Paris. His elegant figures also recall the fashion illustrations he created for Dior in the 1940s. In 1988 Marcil completed a number of bright, dynamic gouache paintings on paper. The artist’s lifelong love of colour and movement is evident in these late-career works.


Marcil was very well-regarded by his artistic peers, critics, and gallerists during his lifetime. He exhibited in both New York and Paris, and his bright and expressive style was praised by the director of the Guggenheim Museum. Today his works are held in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Louvre Museum, Paris, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax.

His works have been exhibited in Odon Wagner Gallery, Toronto and Galerie Rienzo, New York City, among other galleries. A selection of Marcil's erotic works were used to illustrate Robert J. Langevin's 2008 book Rene Marcil & Emile Zola: Nana, based on Emile Zola's 1880 novel Nana.

Art Fairs