Leon Bellefleur was born in Montreal on February 8, 1910. In 1926, he enrolled at the École Normale Jacques-Cartier and after three years obtained his diploma in pedagogy. As a result of his education, Bellefleur was hired to teach elementary school by the Catholic School Commission of Montreal, a position he held for 25 years. Bellefleur had the freedom to develop his art during his summer holidays and in the evenings from 1929 to 1938, while attending drawing classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal. Bellefleur joined the group, Prisme d’Yeux along, with Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancour, Louis Archambault and others. He exhibited with the group and joined them in signing their manifesto in 1948. Bellefleur was part of the second international Cobra exhibition at Liège, Belgium, in 1951 and in 1953 he joined the automatisme movement. After his retirement in 1954, Bellefleur was able to pursue his art career full time. He frequently took extended trips to Europe, particularly to Provence and Paris. He studied engraving in France at Friedlander’s and Desjaubert’s studios. Later, after his return to France in 1958, he drew close to André Breton’s surrealist group. Bellefleur returned to Quebec permanently in 1966. His career was boosted by a retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in 1968, in London (Ontario) and Montréal. Numerous exhibitions of his work have been held in Brazil, Canada, England and Denmark. Québec publishing houses, Éditions de l’hexagone and Éditions du Noroît, frequently commissioned Bellefleur to create illustrations for their publications. He was, in 1977, the first winner of the Prix Borduas. He continued to create lyrical and surrealist influenced painting, drawings, and prints through the 1980s. He received the annual prize of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1985 and an honorary Ph.D. from Concordia University in 1987. Léon Bellefleur was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy in 1989.


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