LOT 032

1905 - 1960

Fanfare débordante
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1954 and on verso titled and dated on the artist's label
20 x 24 in, 50.8 x 61 cm

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

Sold for: $193,250

Preview at: Heffel Toronto – 13 Hazelton Ave

Collection of William and Elizabeth Kilbourn, Toronto

François-Marc Gagnon, Paul-Émile Borduas (1905 - 1960): Biographie critique et analyse de l'oeuvre, 1978, listed pages 491 and 492, mentioned page 365
François-Marc Gagnon, “La première expérience québécoise de la peinture abstraite américaine (les années 1950),” dans Coll., Québécois et Américains. La culture québécoise aux XIXe et XXe siècles (sous la direction de Gérard Bouchard et Yvan Lamonde), 1995, pages 257 - 285
François-Marc Gagnon, Paul-Émile Borduas: A Critical Biography, 2013, page 543, footnote #25

Galerie Agnès Lefort, Montreal, En route!, October 12 - 26, 1954, catalogue #15
Elsie Perrin Williams Memorial Art Museum, London, Jack Bush, Jacques de Tonnancour, Oscar Cahén and Paul-Émile Borduas, March 4 – April 5, 1955
Picture Loan Society, Toronto, Six New Borduas Paintings, April 12 – 22, 1955

The influence and importance of Paul-Émile Borduas in the annals of Canadian contemporary painting cannot be overstated. In fact, the majority of historians, curators and collectors would be at pains to dispute the opinion that, had he lived longer than his 55 years, greater exposure both nationally and internationally was inevitable in the time after 1960. To date, many books and treatises have been written about Borduas’s stature among his Quebec peers—strengthened by the publication of his revolutionary manifesto, Refus global, and his status as the mentor to so many like-minded visual artists, poets and performers who were integral to the establishment of Les Automatistes. Ironically, the title of this painting—which, translated, can mean “a boundless, exuberant fanfare”—is most apt in relation to this example of the artist’s work.

Often referred to as a self-exile, Borduas moved to the United States in 1953, first living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and then establishing his studio in 1954 in Manhattan, where he could more easily study works by the New York artists he most admired—chiefly Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Adolph Gottlieb. Hesitant to speak English, he connected with few new acquaintances in New York; however, that diffidence suited his main goal, which was to work rigorously, without undue distraction or interference. He did return to Montreal several times during 1954, once at the invitation of Pierre Gauvreau in order to curate La Matière chante, an exhibition of works by 24 younger Quebec artists seeking to make their mark.

All in all, the early 1950s proved to be richly productive for Borduas, and significant for several landmark events for him, particularly in the year when Fanfare débordante was created. Starting in January 1954, there was a solo exhibition of at least 24 paintings at New York’s Passedoit Gallery, an exhibit that was widely reviewed in both American and Canadian journals; in April, 12 canvases were exhibited at the Hendler Gallery in Philadelphia; and three paintings were shown at the Venice Biennale in June. Following these well-received exhibitions, Fanfare débordante was one of 17 titled paintings and six ink on paper works designated by the artist with the letters A through F, to be exhibited at Galerie Agnès Lefort in Montreal in October. (Heffel is proud to have offered two other paintings that were in that same exhibition – L’on a trop chassé and Blancs printaniers – in past auction sales.) The show bore the title En route!, a reminder that the artist was on the move and certainly going in the right direction. From October to February, Lampadaire du matin, a painting exhibited in the Passedoit Gallery show, was on view at the Museum of Modern Art on the occasion of its 25th-anniversary celebration.

The strong impetus of the brush-strokes in Fanfare débordante invites our eyes to move ever upward, while the palette leans towards the primary red and blue colours that suggest a spirited celebration. It is worth noting that the artist’s own typed label, including his New York studio address along with the title, dimensions and date of the work, remains intact on the back of the painting. One can easily understand why this work has been treasured by the Kilbourn family for so many years.

This work is included in the Paul-Émile Borduas online catalogue, #2005-0115.

Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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