Marc-Aurèle Fortin was born in 1888 in Sainte-Rose, Quebec. He was known for using his innovative painting technique to depict landscapes of regions around Quebec. Emerging in Montreal as part of the Contemporary Arts Society, Fortin contributed towards a new more modern style of painting during a very fragmented period in the Montreal artistic community.
Fortin studied art for five years before departing from the artistic community for years, working in Edmonton and traveling through the States. While in the United States from 1909 to 1914, he decided to return to painting and enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago.
When he returned to Montreal in 1914, he began to show works celebrating the energy and bustling life of the port of Montreal. Using watercolours and oils, his decorative paintings came to life in vivid colours and dynamic lines. These paintings were surely the most innovative in Montreal at the time, which drew much attention towards his new developing style. Influences from both post-impressionism and fauvism are noticeable in his works; this ability to take inspiration from modern painting styles and implement his own sense of design and execution was surely Fortin’s forte.
A technique that Fortin developed and is renowned for is his Manière noire (black manner), a technique that consisted of converting the entire surface of his canvas or board with black enamel and building it up with intensely coloured paints. This innovative development achieved an intense luminosity that literally exploded from the surface of the painting.
Through the Contemporary Arts Society in Montreal, the public recognized Fortin’s innovative celebration of the beauty of nature. Most of his paintings depict the rustic charm of areas not yet encroached upon by twentieth-century urbanization. His works celebrate the poetry of nature’s beauty, especially through the ways he juxtaposes the natural world to urbanization and industry.