Rita Letendre was born in Drummondville, Quebec of Abenaki and French-Canadian heritage. In 1948, she enrolled at the École des beaux-arts in Montreal where she studied with Jacques de Tonnancour. Intrigued by her teachers? negative comments about the Exposition des Rebelles, an exhibition featuring the work of Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes, Letendre visited the exhibition and thereafter became totally enchanted with Borduas?s ideas and an abstract approach to painting.
Letendre abandoned her studies at the École des beaux-arts and by the early 1950s was exhibiting with the Automatistes at the now legendary Librarie Tranquille and Café L?Échourie. In 1955, her work was included in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition, Espace 55, an important institutional endorsement of abstraction and the new Montreal painting. In 1960, Letendre won the Repentigny Young Painters Award, and in 1962, an award from the Province of Quebec.
Painter, printmaker, muralist and stained-glass designer, Letendre has continued to receive numerous awards and has participated in hundreds of national and international exhibitions. She has lived for extended periods in Europe, California, Toronto and New York, and presently resides in Longueuil, Quebec where she continues to paint in her unique and vibrant style.