The death of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, in June 1891 initiated an unprecedented enthusiasm for monuments to his memory. Monarchs, politicians and leading public figures of the nineteenth century had all been immortalized in life and death by photographers, painters, engravers and sculptors and Macdonald would prove to be no exception. But when his support was solicited for a memorial to Macdonald, the former Governor-General, the Marquis of Lome, founder of the Royal Society of Canada and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, stated that: "I hope the Government will be able to recognize Sir John's great services in some fitly form; I do not think it should take the form of a monument." He would have prefered that a museum might be erected in the Prime Minister's memory. Nonetheless, within weeks of Sir John's death proposals to erect monuments were announced in Montréal, Hamilton, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto, the funds to be raised by popular subscription.
Vers la fin des années 1970, la «maison québécoise» s'imposait comme emblème du Québec. Pourtant cette sacralisation, si elle paraît l'objet d'un prestige certain, a paradoxalement marqué le terme de son exploration; on a cessé de lui octroyer de nouveaux statuts juridiques et les discours interprétatifs, de même qu'en aval les savoirs, se sont ostensiblement essoufflés. Tout s'est passé comme si la notoriété de la «maison québécoise», icône de l'identité et de la spécificité du Québec, avait condamné au silence les chercheurs. Certains ont prétendu que tout avait été dit — et bien dit — ; la plupart, cependant, ont opté en faveur d'un «patrimoine» aux contours élargis. Les sujets mis de l'avant par l'archéologie industrielle et par l'archéologie historique, l'étude des savoirs, des pratiques et des mémoires qui, entre les mains des historiens, a déclassé celle des objets, ainsi que la popularité grandissante des musées et des centres d'interprétation qui a recentré les formations paraissent avoir, tous, sonné le glas des recherches sur la maison, qu'on aurait pourtant crue promise à un bel avenir.
The Maison Québécoise
The Construction and Deconstruction of a Symbol
This article traces the history of the maison québécoise, an architectural entity that has long since become an emblem. We suggest in this article that the "heritage" association (often with strongly nationalistic overtones) of the maison québécoise has turned it into a symbol rather than an object of architectural study. However, the history of how the house took on symbolic meaning has seldom been analyzed; most of the many works on Quebec architecture published since 1940 have supported the conceit without questioning the problematic framework that surrounded the first discussions on the maison.
Le chercheur qui tente de reconstituer l'œuvre d'un peintre est souvent confronté à la situation suivante : ou bien les archives mentionnent un titre d'œuvre qu'il n'arrive pas à retrouver, ou bien il a connaissance d'une œuvre sans en connaître le titre. Rappelons, à titre d'exemple de l'une et de l'autre de ces situations, le cas du tableau Abstraction verte (1941) de Borduas, dont tous les chercheurs travaillant sur l'œuvre de cet artiste ont entendu parler. Longtemps ce tableau était resté introuvable. Les péripéties entourant l'histoire de cette toile sont relatées par François-Marc Gagnon. Le paradoxe tient au fait que, durant toutes ces années où l'œuvre était considérée comme perdue, une photographie noir et blanc, non identifiée du tableau, se trouvait parmi les papiers de Borduas!
Les Îles noires and Gris argent, Two Paintings by Borduas
A History of Titles
For quite some time, the location of two paintings produced by Borduas during his stay in Paris had been a mystery; and this article will discuss the rediscovery of Les Îles noires and Gris argent (refered to as Gris d'argent in François-Marc Gagnon's biography of Borduas). At one time or another, all researchers come across the title of a work whose whereabouts is unknown, or else they are aware of a work but are unable to identify its title. Both situations are central to the history of the 1941 painting Abstraction verte, discussed by Gagnon in Vie des Arts two decades ago. The quest described in this article follows a rather similar vein. During my research on the theme of islands in Borduas' work, I was intrigued by the fact that the title Les Îles noires did not appear in any catalogues or articles. The only evidence of the painting's existence was a reference by Borduas in a letter to New York gallery owner Martha Jackson dated April 6, 1958, where he thanks her for confirming the sale of the paintings that she had reserved "the previous summer." However, consultation of the Martha Jackson archives in the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution and the State University of New York at Buffalo proved fruitless in providing any more information.
August 1998 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Refus global, the manifesto of a group of sixteen painters, dancers, writers, photographers and designers from Montréal who were called the Automatists, and who are now considered major figures in the history of Canadian modernism. The anniversary sparked a great deal of interest in Québec and a burst of activity on the part of cultural agencies, galleries, writers and publishers to plan events and bring out books on or near the date. A major federal stimulus was the issue of a set of commemorative stamps reproducing works by Automatist painters Marcel Barbeau, Paul-Emile Borduas, Marcelle Ferron, Pierre Gauvreau, Fernand Leduc, Jean-Paul Mousseau and Jean-Paul Riopelle. This commemoration prompted exhibitions in Hull at the Musée de la poste, as well as in Paris (Centre culturel canadien), London (Canada House) and Washington (Canadian Embassy). The occasion was also acknowledged by a colour spread in the Toronto Star. In fact, so much happened over the year that it is difficult to mention everything, or even bring much order to the list, and the following account does not pretend to be complete. In fact, this article began as a review of the first volume of the catalogue raisonné of Jean-Paul Riopelle and grew from there into a more general discussion of other events and publications celebrating the movement and its anniversary.
From a nadir reached in the 1960s when works by the artists of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries looked hopelessly dated and sentimental, there has been a resurgence of interest and enthusiasm in and for this work on the part of subsequent generations of critics, curators, art historians and collectors. The numerous publications and exhibitions, and soaring auction prices for Canadian landscape painting of the 1910s to the 40s would have been hard to predict when abstraction was ruling the day. But this work is hot again, and the interest shows no sign of abating. Witness these two books from 2000 and 2001, both of which deal with Emily Carr, who has already received so much attention. Is there anything new to be said? Both authors, Sharyn Udall and Susan Crean, seem to think so. Actually, Udall, Professor of Art History at the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is to be commended for conceiving of her worthy but challenging project, which also had an exhibition component. The show of works by Carr, as well as her counterparts in Mexico and the US — Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe — opened at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in June 2001, as the first stop on a North-American tour. As is often the practice these days, the exhibition does not have an accompanying catalogue per se, but Udall's book is meant to serve that purpose as well as functioning as a stand-alone publication. In this way it can be marketed and distributed as a trade publication, with the aim of garnering a wider readership.
Attending a lecture in an undergraduate art history course in the mid-1960s, Natalie Luckyj found herself in a class consisting almost exclusively of young women and taught by a male professor. Her fellow-student Victoria Henry later remembered the teacher saying: "I'm glad to see you're all taking this course. It will be helpful background for when you decorate your husbands' homes." This may justly be regarded as the seed for much of the scholarship accomplished by Natalie, whose death after a short and dignified battle with cancer has silenced one of the most passionate advocates of feminist inquiry into Canadian art and art history. Her education (University of Toronto; B.A. 1967, M.A. 1968), and her subsequent career as a writer, curator, teacher and administrator, had nothing to do with the drive to decorate, and everything to do with dedicated scholarship.
Étudiante en histoire de l'art au milieu des années soixante, Natalie Luckyj s'est retrouvée dans une classe composée presqu'entièrement de jeunes femmes, dont le professeur était un homme. Une des étudiantes, Victoria Henry, s'est rappelé plus tard avoir entendu ce professeur leur dire : «Je suis heureux de vous voir suivre ce cours. Cela vous sera utile pour décorer la maison de vos maris». On peut à juste titre considérer cet incident comme la sëmence d'une grande partie des travaux accomplis par Natalie, dont la mort, après une courte et digne lutte contre le cancer, a fait taire la voix d'une des plus ardentes avocates des recherches féministes en art et en histoire de l'art au Canada. Ses études (Université de Toronto; licence, 1967; maîtrise, 1968), et sa carière ultérieure comme écrivain, conservatrice, professeure et administratrice ne devaient rien au besoin de décorer et tout à son amour de la recherche.