Major Claude Tousignant retrospective at the MAC

    MONTREAL, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - From February 5 to April 26, 2009, the
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal presents a major retrospective devoted to
Claude Tousignant, a leading light of abstraction. Entitled Claude Tousignant,
A Retrospective, the exhibition covers the artist's career of fifty-plus years
through ninety-one works, including drawings, paintings and sculptures, from
his famous Monochrome orangé and his Transformateurs chromatiques, Gongs,
Accélérateurs chromatiques, Diptyques circulaires, Polychromes and Monochromes
series to his most recent pieces. It is the largest exhibition devoted to a
single artist ever presented at the Musée. Laid out chronologically, the show
takes up six of the museum's eight galleries as well as the Atrium.
    Encompassing the range of modernist expression, Tousignant's pictorial
practice is unique in the history of Canadian art. Throughout his career, the
artist has shown an unwavering commitment to abstract art. From the outset, he
was closely identified with the development of a resolutely
non-representational form of Canadian art. He moved quickly towards a
hard-edge approach, (uniform, sharply defined areas of colour), which he used
to explore the potential of the colour field and the pure geometric form.
Distinguishing himself from most of his contemporaries, he began creating
serial compositions in which the whole picture plane is dynamized by the
intrinsic and expressive properties of colour. However, it was his famous
Gongs, concentric rings of colour, that established his reputation in the late
1960s. He has also always simultaneously explored the realm of sculpture,
producing a corpus that ranges from the modest wood constructions of the 1960s
to the recent Modulateurs luso chromatiques series of monumental sculptures in
painted aluminum, where the intense colour cloaking each piece seems to
vibrate in the surrounding space. In these works, Tousignant continues to
probe the relationship between colour and light.
    Claude Tousignant has left his mark on the history of contemporary art;
his target paintings and large-scale compositions have become an essential
reference in Canadian abstract painting. But beyond words and theoretical
notions, this exhibition invites visitors to experience for themselves the
power of his art, in vibrant, living colour.
    An extensive program of activities is planned to accompany this major
event (see the attached In Connection with the Exhibition).

    Biographical Notes

    Claude Tousignant was born in 1932 in Montréal, where he continues to
live and work. He is one of those very few artists whose lives have been
dedicated exclusively to their art. At school, the only classes that
interested him were drawing and geometry. In 1948, he entered the School of
Art and Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Of all his teachers,
Gordon Webber (himself a former student of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy) was the most
influential in guiding his career, as he introduced him to avant-garde art and
modern art theories, particularly those of the Bauhaus. A great many
exhibitions have been devoted to Tousignant's work. Among the most important
are his first exhibition at the café L'Echourie, in 1955; the show at the
Galerie l'Actuelle in 1956; and The Responsive Eye, at New York's Museum of
Modern Art in 1965. He represented Canada at the 8th Bienal de Sao Paulo in
1965. In the following years, the retrospective Claude Tousignant opened at
the National Gallery of Canada in 1973, then travelled to galleries including
the Musée d'art contemporain, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of
Ontario and the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris; Claude Tousignant:
Sculptures was held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1982; and Claude
Tousignant: monochromes, 1978-1993 was presented at the Musée du Québec in
1994. In addition to the 1973 retrospective, the Musée d'art contemporain
devoted an exhibition to him, titled Dyptiques 1978-1980, in 1980. A number of
major museums have Tousignant works in their collections; among those that
have kindly agreed to lend them to us for the duration of the exhibition are
the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec,
the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d'art de Joliette, the Leonard &
Bina Ellen Gallery of Concordia University, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in
Oshawa, the Nickle Arts Museum at the University of Calgary and the University
of Lethbridge Art Gallery.
    Over the course of his career, Claude Tousignant has won the prestigious
Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (presented by the Canada Council for the
Arts for outstanding achievement by mid-career artists), in 1974, and the Prix
Paul-Emile-Borduas (the highest visual-arts distinction awarded by the Québec
government), in 1989. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada
in 1976.


    Claude Tousignant, A Retrospective was organized by the Musée d'art
contemporain de Montréal. It was curated by Paulette Gagnon, Chief Curator,
and Mark Lanctôt, curator, both of the Musée. The Musée d'art contemporain
thanks La Presse, its media partner for this major retrospective.
    The Musée d'art contemporain is a provincially owned corporation funded
by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine
du Québec. It receives additional funding from the Department of Canadian
Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts.

    General Information

    The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is located at 185
Sainte-Catherine Street West, Montréal, Québec H2X 3X5, Place-des-Arts metro.
Information: 514.847.6226 or The museum is open Tuesday through
Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays as well as for
its Nocturnes on the first Friday evening of every month. Admission: adults
$8, students $4. The Musée will also stay open from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the
night of February 28 to March 1 as part of the Montreal All-Nighter.

    In Connection with the Exhibition Claude Tousignant, A Retrospective


    A comprehensive and lavishly illustrated bilingual catalogue has been
published to accompany the exhibition. It contains essays by Paulette Gagnon,
Mark Lanctôt, Daniel Lanthier and Denise Leclerc, together with a chronology
and a selective bibliography drawn up by Martine Perreault. The 250-page
publication may be purchased for $49.95 at the museum's Olivieri Bookstore or
from your local bookseller.

    Point(s) of View Series

    As part of the Point(s) of View series, a guided tour of the exhibition
will be offered by curator Mark Lanctôt on Wednesday, February 11 at 6 p.m. in
French and at 7:15 p.m. in English. The event is free of charge.

    Belles Soirées et Matinées

    In conjunction with the Université de Montréal's Belles soirées et
matinées, a lecture/tour will be given by curator Mark Lanctôt in the Claude
Tousignant, A Retrospective exhibition galleries. The activity will take place
on Tuesday, February 10 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Admission: $15; seniors: $12;
students: $10. Registration: 514.343.2020

    Reading Room

    A reading room devoted to Tousignant's work will be set up for visitors
in the Eaton Lounge, across from the Media Centre on the second floor.

    Art Videos

    Gazoduc-TQM Room
    Tuesday to Sunday at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., plus
    Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.
    Additional screenings during Friday Nocturnes at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
    on February 6, March 6 and April 3, as well as Easter Monday, April 13,
    at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

    February 5 to 28

    Driven to Abstraction
    Canadian Abstract Art and the Turbulent '50s
    Director: George Mully. Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 1992
    32 min 25 s

    Using newsreel footage from the 1950s, this film incorporates comments
from Claude Tousignant and other Canadian artists about abstract art.

    March 1 to 31

    Modern and Abstract Painting in Canada
    Director: George Mully. Montréal, National Film Board of Canada, 1992
    37 min

    This compilation comprises two videos from the National Gallery of
Canada: Modern Art in Canada - The Beginnings and The Painter Speaks -
Canadian Abstract Painters. The latter consists of archival radio and
television footage and film clips, and introduces Canadian artists, including
Claude Tousignant.

    April 1 to 30

    Blanc de mémoire
    Director: Jacques Giraldeau. Montréal, National Film Board of Canada,
    99 min

    Based on a fictional postcard, this documentary traces the major
developments in the history of modern art in Québec. Featuring Claude
Tousignant, among others.

    Art Workshops

    - For all, with family or friends
    Every Sunday at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
    Free for children under 12 (must be accompanied by an adult). No
    reservation necessary.

    Ding Gong !
    February 8 to April 5, 2009

    Abstract-painting workshop inspired by Claude Tousignant's Gongs series,
1966. Trade in your brush for a roller, and create a circular painting in
vibrant colour.

    - Creative Tuesdays (art workshops for adults)
    A different activity is offered each Tuesday.
    1:30 to 4 p.m.
    Cost: $12 per workshop
    Registration: or tel. 514.847.6266

    Chromatic Resonance
    February 10 and 17 and March 10 and 17, 2009 (series)

    Participants will paint works inspired by Claude Tousignant's approach to
painting, particularly his series such as Transformateurs chromatiques, Gongs,
Accélérateurs chromatiques and the Diptyques circulaires.

    March Break Day Camp

    For children aged 6 to 11
    March 2 to 6, 2009
    $186.24 (tax included) including materials and before and after-camp
    Registration: or tel. 514.847.6266

    Enjoy a hands-on studio experience at the Musée. Targeted artist: Claude
    ACQ-certified day camp

    Guided Tours

    Guided tours of the exhibition Claude Tousignant, A Retrospective will be
    offered by the education team on Wednesday evenings at 6, 7 and 6:30 p.m.
    in French and 6:30 p.m. in English, and on Saturdays and Sundays at
    1 and 3 p.m. in French or English.

    Virtual Exhibition

    Viewing Claude Tousignant
    March 22, 2006 to December 31, 2010

    This virtual exhibition, created for the show Place à la magie! The
Forties, Fifties and Sixties in Québec, features 36 works by the artist. The
project was carried out in collaboration with lab)idéeclic! and the
Laboratoire de muséologie et d'ingénierie de la culture (LAMIC), with the
support of the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec.
    -%SU: CLT
    -%RE: 40

For further information:

For further information: Danielle Legentil, MACM, Public Relations
Coordinator,, (514) 847-6232; Visual material
available,, Newsroom, Link: Visual material, User name: presse ,
Password: gtrcmedias

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890