Honorary degree citation - Jacques de Tonnancour*
By: P. Landsley, June 1986
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Jacques de Tonnancour, distinguished painter, writer, teacher and photographer.
De Tonnancour had his first one-man show in 1942 at the Domionion Gallery, Montreal. The National Gallery of Canada purchased a work from this show for its Permanent Collection. De Tonnancour was then only 25 years old.
In addition to pursuing his painting, he began at this time writing critical reviews and articles for art magazines and newspapers. In 1944 he was awarded a scholarship from the Brazilian Government and spent a year working in and around Rio de Janeiro.
He represented Canada, in 1950, at the 5th UNESCO Conference in Florence, Italy. He won First Prize at the 1956 Winnipeg Show, a national exhibition, winning it again the following year as well as being awarded the Painting Prize at the Biennial Exhibition of the National Gallery of Canada.
De Tonnancour has been awarded two Canada Council Senior Fellowship Grants. Having reached a major position in Canadian Art he was invited to represent Canada at the International Biennial of Art in Brussels as well as the prestigious Venice Bienniale.
He has been a significant influence on Canadian Painting through his superlative contribution as teacher while at the University of British Columbia, Mount Allison University, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Universite du Quebec a Montreal
He has been awarded among others, the Painting Prize of the Concours Artistique of the province du Quebec, the Canada Council Medal and the Order of Canada.
Jacques de Tonnancour is considered an eminent figure in Canadian Art, has been a major influence on Canadian contemporary painting, not simply by the intense painterly aspect of his work, his instinctive grasp of the visual metaphor but also by his single-minded devotion to the principle of the painter constantly extending himself in the face of fresh self-imposed challenges. The range of de Tonnancour's work from the early Matissean still lives, through his struggle to liberate his work from the crush of Picasso - as so many painters of the 50's and 60's attempted to do, resulted in a mature personal imagery, ranging from the accomplished linear Laurentian Landscapes of the 60's to finally his last poetic and mystical abstract collage paintings, and even then, onto photography.
De Tonnancour has been compared to other explosive Quebecois painters as... implosive ... an extremely rational man dealing with the meditative and the contemplative, considered by many to be a Painter's Painter.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Jacques de Tonnancour, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.