• Chute dans le Blanc (Descent into white) (#179)
  • 60" x 40", oil on canvas
  • Jean McEwen

Artist Information

Jean McEwen
Photo: Jean McEwen, 1998, taken by: Marc-André Grenier

Jean McEwen was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1923. He completed a degree in Pharmacy at the University of Montreal in 1948, but soon realized he was more of an artist and a poet than a chemist. Later his painted work would be exhibited alongside that of the soon-to-be-famous Automatist painters of Montreal, with Paul-Émile Borduas as their leader.

Starting in 1951, numerous solo exhibitions were held in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and New York (Martha Jackson Gallery). A first retrospective show was presented in 1973 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, McEwen 1953-1973; a second retrospective show was organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine arts in 1987, entitled Jean McEwen: Colour in Depth.

Jean McEwen is considered one of Canada’s most influential abstract painters. He received many awards during his career, including the Concours Artistique for the Province of Quebec (1961) and an honorable mention during the Sondage 68 show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1968). In 1977 he received the Victor Lynch-Staunton Scholarship from the Canada Council, which honours outstanding artistic achievement by Canadian mid-career artists. He was also awarded the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas Award by the Province of Quebec in 1998.


Jean McEwen died in Montreal on January 9, 1999.

Selected Exhibitions

2023 Jean McEwen, Wallace Galleries, Calgary

2020 Jean McEwen, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

2018 McEwen,“Poèmes barbares,” vingt ans après, Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

2015 Jean McEwen, Feuilles aux yeux de pluie (watercolours), Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

2014 Calque – Exhibition of Works on Paper, Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal

2013 Bleu, Winchester Galleries, Victoria

2012 Jean McEwen, La séduction de l’acrylique, Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

2009 Montreal: The 50s, 60’s, 70’s, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

2005 Early Paintings from the 60’s and 70’s, Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

2004 Jean McEwen: Last Works, Gallery One One One, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

Jean McEwen, Rétrospective, Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

2001 Jean McEwen, Comme une acquarelle (watercolours), Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

1998 Jean McEwen, Poèmes barbares, Galerie Simon Blais, Montréal

1997 Important Paintings from the 60s & 70s, Mira Godard Gallery

1991 Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

Galerie Madeleine Lacerte, Quebec City

1989 Waddington & Gorce Inc., Montreal

1987 Waddington & Gorce Inc. Retrospective, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1986 Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

1985 Jean McEwen: A Retrospective, Waddington & Gorce Galleries, Montreal

1984 Jean McEwen: Thirty Years, Mira Godard Gallery

1983 Galerie Jolliet, Montreal

1982 Jean McEwen, New Paintings, Mira Godard Gallery

1981 Jean McEwen, Recent Paintings, Mira Godard Gallery, Calgary

Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

1979 Jean McEwen: Suite Parisienne, Mira Godard Gallery

1978 Jean McEwen, Canadian Cultural Exhibition, Paris

1977 Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto

1976 Equinox Gallery, Vancouver

Marlborough Godard Gallery, Montreal

1975 Marlborough Godard Gallery, Toronto

1974-75 Jean McEwen A Retrospective, Canadian Touring Exhibition

1973 Marlborough Godard Gallery, Montreal

McEwen 1953 - 1973, Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal (catalogue)

1972 Marlborough Godard Gallery, Toronto

1971 Galerie Godard Lefort, Montreal

1969 Galerie Place Royale, Quebec

Galerie Godard Lefort, Montreal

1965-66 Gallery Moos, Toronto

1964 Galerie Anderson-Mayer, Paris

Galerie Agnes Lefort, Montreal

Gallery Moos, Toronto

1963 Martha Jackson Gallery, New York

1962 Galerie Agnes Lefort, Montreal

Gallery Moos, Toronto

1960 Gallery XII, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1958 Galerie Denise Delrue, Montreal

1956 Galerie Actuelle, Montreal

1954 Galerie Agnes Lefort, Montreal


1951 Galerie Agnes Lefort, Montreal


Selected Collections

Montreal Museum Fine Arts

Musée du Québec

Art Gallery of Ontario

National Gallery of Canada

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal

Hart House, University of Toronto

Winnipeg Art Gallery

Edmonton Art Gallery

London Regional Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery

Queen’s University, Kingston

Confederation Art Centre

Toronto Dominion Bank

Concordia University

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

McGill University, Montreal

Canada Council Art Bank

Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton

Norcen Energy Resources


Gordon Securities

Imperial Oil

Esso Resources

The Smithsonian, Hirshhorn Collection, Washington, D.C.


1991 Bank of Nova Scotia, Tour Scotia



Jean McEwen Exhibition e-catalog 2023

Jean McEwen

March 18 – April 12, 2023

Opening Reception: March 18: 2-5PM

For the first time ever in Calgary, we will be hosting the exclusive exhibition of select works by Jean McEwen.  Celebrating the centennial of his birth, Jean McEwen is a renowned Canadian (Quebec) artist whom created works that were ground-breaking in the art scene during the action expression movement of the 50's-60's and beyond.  

His works were always created with a deeply thought-out idea in mind.  They demand an emotional response from whomever come upon them.  He is known for his innovation and contribution to art.  His works are exhibited in the MoMA, The National Gallery of Canada, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, to name a few.  McEwen always insisted that his works were focused and based by the sensation that one gets from art, not based on criteria or theories of art.  This exhibition holds true to this sentiment, and is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime exhibition to hit Calgary which shouldn't be missed.