Quebec art will be put in public place: Heritage minister

The federal government says two paintings by Quebec artist Alfred Pellan, pulled down to make space for a portrait of the Queen, will be placed up somewhere the public can enjoy them.

Alfred Pellan paintings replaced by Queen's portrait

The federal government says two paintings by an acclaimed Quebec artist, pulled down to make space for a portrait of the Queen, will be placed up somewhere the public can enjoy them.

Heritage Minister James Moore says even more people will be able to see the masterpieces by Alfred Pellan.The move to pull down the paintings created some surprise or anger: among art-lovers, anti-monarchists, Quebecers and even among federal employees at Foreign Affairs.

The government says it took down Pellan's paintings of Canadian scenes, which hung in the Foreign Affairs building, to pay tribute to Canada's head of state.

Pellan is considered a pivotal figure in bringing modern art to Canada and is revered enough that a federal electoral riding is named after him.

"I think it's very shocking," Germain Lefebvre, the artist's biographer, said upon hearing news this week about the removal. "Alfred Pellan is one of the most important painters of Canada. Those paintings are masterpieces."

Lefebvre said Pellan helped modernize Canadian painting by introducing cubism and surrealism.

The paintings in Ottawa were more traditional. They were brightly coloured landscapes — one representing Eastern Canada and another one of Western Canada.

Pellan died in the 1980s.

The Parti Québécois, Quebec's opposition party, says the recent gesture surrounding Pellan showed a lack of respect for Quebec art.

But Moore scoffed at that suggestion. He says the PQ is just trying to score political points.

Moore made the remarks in Montreal Friday while announcing that the federal government is spending $23 million to fund 252 arts projects.

While the vast majority of these projects are already underway, several dozen of them, 44 in total, will receive new federal funding. Those new contributions are slated to total $3 million.