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Object Description

Yvonne Canu was born in 1921 in the Moroccan town of Meknes. Her father was a Parisian architect who moved to Morocco as a Protectorate Architectural Service Officer. In 1920 he married, in Casablanca, Denise Aimée Pouard, and Yvonne was born a year later.

Yvonne Canu was sent to a boarding school in France, and then attended École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, a prestigious college whose former pupils included Fernand Léger and Francis Picabia. The outbreak of World War II forced Canu to interrupt her studies and return to Morocco where she worked as a military nurse.

At the end of World War II Yvonne Canu returned to Paris where she became part of the vibrant Montmartre group of artists, befriending other artists such as François Gall, Élisée Maclet and Tsuguharu Foujita, who introduced her to plein-air landscape painting. She also studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where she briefly embraced Cubism.

However, her greatest influence was the work of Georges Seurat, and in particular his Pointilliste masterpiece ‘Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte’. From 1955 she devoted herself assiduously to the techniques and rigid chromatic rules of Pointillism.

With this end in mind Yvonne Canu, following in the footsteps of Paul Signac – an earlier devotee of Pointillism, moved to St. Tropez. Other artists, inspired by the southern light and colour of the little fishing port also had preceded her – including Matisse, Bonnard and Marquet.

Yvonne Canu, faithful to the Pointillist style, painted for the remainder of her life in Saint Tropez and other Mediterranean ports, with occasional visits to Paris to paint scenes of the River Seine. Her soft palette, with occasional flashes of primary colours evoke the life and spirit of these beautiful locations, in a style unique to the only female French Pointillist.

Yvonne Canu exhibited extensively after the Second World War until her death in 2008.

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