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The Automatistes and Refus global

The Story


The 15 young intellectuals and artists who co-signed Refus global with Paul-Emile Borduas are dubbed "Automatistes." The Arts Today host Eleanor Wachtel discusses how the Automatistes gave voice to a new Montreal-based art movement, with Gilles Lapointe, professor of literature at the Université du Québec à Montréal and François-Marc Gagnon, art history professor at Université de Montréal. Inspired by Borduas, and influenced by French poet André Breton's stream-of-consciousness (automatic) style, the Automatistes extol the creative force of the subconscious. The group includes world-renowned artists such as painters Jean-Paul Riopelle, Fernand Leduc and dancer Françoise Sullivan as well as Madeleine Arbour, Marcel Barbeau, Bruno Cormier, Claude Gauvreau, Pierre Gauvreau, Muriel Guilbault, Marcelle Ferron, Thérèse Leduc, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Maurice Perron, Louise Renaud, Françoise Riopelle.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Arts Today
Broadcast Date: May 6, 1998
Guests: François-Marc Gagnon, Gilles Lapointe
Host: Eleanor Wachtel
Duration: 5:19

Did You know?


• The most idealistic and outspoken Automatiste was writer Claude Gauvreau, often thought of as the group's resident theoretician. In 1971, a day after he signed a contract with Théâtre du Nouveau Monde to produce his ambitious play Les Oranges sont vertes, he fell from his building to his death. The autobiographical play, written over 12 years, is seen as Gauvreau's indictment of diminishing idealism of artists and intellectuals.


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Le Refus global: Revolution in the Arts more