Acrylic on canvas
198.4 cm diameter (diptych, each panel)
Gift of Jean-Paul Diry and Alice Monty-Diry,
Montreal, Quebec, 2008
Born in Montreal in 1932, Claude Tousignant studied at the École des Beaux-arts de Montréal where he specialized in printmaking, painting and lithography. In the 1950s he became a member of Les Plasticiens, a group made up of a generation of painters who eschewed figuration and for whom painting was, and is, “paint, forms, lines, colours and textures”.
This diptych is a seminal example of a signature style that remerged during a fifteen-year period between the late-seventies and early-nineties. As early as 1956, with the watershed painting Monochrome Orange
, Tousignant would pursue painting that was devoid of external referents and, in a true modernist approach, kept as its central tenet the “object-ness” of painting stripped of all relative subjectivity. Tousignant’s paintings of the 1960s have become emblematic of that era, drawing comparisons to Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt and Kenneth Nolan. These flat, simple, visually engaging colour field paintings would eventually lead to work in sculpture, printmaking and installation.
While the AGNS has examples of the artist’s early colour-field paintings, we lacked works from this important groundbreaking fifteen-year period. Our ability to present this history is significantly enhanced by the donation of Tousignant’s work. Even though our collection is small, with a few works by Belzile, Jérôme, Toupin
and Leduc, the AGNS is nonetheless the premier collector in the Atlantic region for the work by Les Plasticiens. The passions and insight behind this outstanding work will be an invaluable contribution to our curatorial programming.
Robert Zingone, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art