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Public reaction to Refus global is swift and harsh

The Story


Critical reaction to Paul-Emile Borduas and Refus global is vehement and unrelenting. Borduas is caught off guard and unprepared for the backlash. He is forced to resign his teaching job at l'Ecole du Meuble.  Unable to sell his paintings, and denied art exhibitions, his health and marriage suffer. On top of it all, the Automatistes drift apart, quickly going their separate ways. Depressed and discouraged, Borduas decides to leave Quebec for an extended period in a self-imposed exile in 1953. He spends time in New York and then from 1955 until his death in 1960 at the age of 54, he lives in Paris.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: May 4, 1988
Guest: Bruno Cormier
Reporter: Gerri Barrer
Duration: 1:42

Did You know?


• In 1941, at the age of 36, Paul-Emile Borduas attempted his first abstract paintings. Later he wrote, "Children, always of great interest to me, opened up the way of surrealism, of automatic writing."

• Borduas's splashy, abstract style was considered too radical for the times but today he is recognized as one of the greatest Canadian painters of the postwar era.


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