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Automatists are celebrated 50 years later

On Aug. 9, 1948, a handsome young group of artists and intellectuals gathered at a Montreal bookstore to launch an anti-religious and anti-establishment manifesto. Le Refus global (Total Refusal) was signed by 16 artists including such giants as Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas. It would become one of the most important and controversial artistic and social documents in modern Quebec society.

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Fifty years after le Refus global is first published, a big celebration is planned in Quebec. Events include special publications, seminars, exhibitions and discussions about the manifesto. Canada Post even releases a series of stamps commemorating the works of the artists who signed le Refus global.
In this clip art critic Henry Lehman looks at le Refus global exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.

Lehman says the manifesto of the Automatists is universally recognized as one of the most important artistic and social documents in Quebec society in the past 50 years.
. Le Refus global was reprinted in 1960 in La revue socialiste pour un Québec indépendant.
. Le Refus global has been adopted by the Quebec independence movement. But Paul-Emile Borduas once wrote that he hated all nationalism. The document, says Pierre Gauvreau (one of le Refus global's signatories), was never meant to be a nationalist manifesto.
Medium: Television
Program: Newswatch
Broadcast Date: May 12, 1998
Guest(s): Henry Lehman
Reporter: Anna Asimakopulos
Duration: 0:47

Last updated: January 13, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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