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Pierre Gauvreau, Colloque Exhubérant

Pierre Gauvreau, Colloque Exhubérant (1944), mixed media on canvas [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Jun 23-Oct 14] © Pierre Gauvreau / SODRAC (2012)

The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941-1960

Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton AB – Jun 23-Oct 14, 2012

Paul-Émile Borduas, Composition

Paul-Émile Borduas, Composition, (1942), oil on canvas

The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941-1960 includes 60 works of art as well as photos, books and other artifacts documenting the infamous avant-garde movement. Curated by Roald Nasgaard, the show was described in Canadian Art as “a signature exhibition of the Automatiste movement that set Quebec on the road to its Quiet Revolution.” Organized and circulated by the Varley Art Gallery, Ontario in 2009, the exhibit subsequently travelled to the Albright-Knox, New York, where it was shown alongside paintings by De Kooning, Pollock and Rothko.

Under the leadership of Paul-Émile Borduas, the Automatistes challenged the conservative Quebec status quo through their spontaneous painting techniques during the 1940s and ‘50s. They are credited with bringing modernist painting to Canada. Their “stream of consciousness” work – including dance, music, poetry and plays – was abstract, passionate and lyrical. Prominent Quebec artists included Marcel Barbeau, Roger Fauteux, Claude Gauvreau, Pierre Gauvreau and Jean-Paul Riopelle.

The Automastistes in Quebec were inspired by the art of their American counterparts, who experimented with the creation of abstract work based on impulses from the subconscious. In 1948 the Quebec Automatistes published Refus global (Total Refusal), a controversial anti-religious and anti-establishment manifesto. It became one of the pillars of the Quiet Revolution, a period of intense artistic and cultural change in Quebec. The group itself disbanded after the death of Borduas in 1960 but many members went on to international acclaim.


Mia Johnson

Paul-Émile Borduas, Bercement silencieux

Paul-Émile BorduasBercement silencieux, (1956), oil on canvas © Estate of Paul-Émile Borduas / SODRAC (2009)

 Wed, Jun 20, 2012