At the age of fifteen he became an apprentice to Ozias Leduc, a church decorator. Leduc gave Borduas a basic artististic training, teaching him how to restore and decorate churches. In 1923 he enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, which he followed up by studying in Paris from 1928 to 1930.
He began painting abstracts in 1941, becoming more interested in the act of painting rather than the subject matter. He and some of his students became known as the Automatistes for their attempts to paint "automatically".
In 1955 he moved back to Paris where he died of a heart attack in 1960.
His most famous work is the painting L'etoile noire (Black Star) composed of a white background and dabs of black paint. Other works of his include: