Marcel Barbeau was born in Montreal and studied under Paul-Emile Borduas along with Jean-Paul Riopelle at Ecole du Meuble. He was an original member of Les Automatistes in 1946. This was a movement where members were less concerned with planning out their compositions but paint automatically without preconceived direction for the piece. He later branched out into sculpture, performance art and film. In 1964 he received the Zack Award, Canadian Painting Biennial, Canadian Royal Academy; Governor General's Award; Louis-Philippe-Herbert Award and many other awards as well as many Canada Council grants.