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LOT 032

Paul-Émile Borduas
1905 - 1960

Tom-pouce et les chimères
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1947 and on verso titled and inscribed "St. Hilaire Est." on a label
6 1/2 x 8 3/4 in 16.5 x 22.2 cm

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000

Sold for: $85,250

Preview at:

M. Wilson, Montreal, former student at the École du meuble, May 1948
Pierre Fortier, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto

Jacques-G. Daoust, "Dix peintures de Paul-É. Borduas," Le Devoir, April 21, 1948, mentioned page 7
Charles Doyon, "Borduas 48," Le Clairon, May 7, 1948, titled as Tom-pouce et la chimère
François-Marc Gagnon, Paul-Émile Borduas (1905 - 1960): Biographie critique et analyse de l'oeuvre, 1978, mentioned pages 225, 226 and 480
François-Marc Gagnon, Paul-Émile Borduas, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, 1988, page 224, mentioned pages 129, 224 and 226, reproduced page 225
François-Marc Gagnon, Paul-Émile Borduas: A Critical Biography, 2013, page 220

Guy and Jacques Viau Studio, Montreal, Dix peintures de Borduas, April 17 - May 1, 1948
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Paul-Émile Borduas, May 6 - August 7, 1988, catalogue #53

This work was produced a year before Paul-Émile Borduas instigated the anti-establishment and anti-religious manifesto Refus global, issued by the Automatists in 1948, which challenged traditional values in Quebec. A surrealist concept of automatism was active in Borduas’s non-figurative work at that time, a “surrational automatism,” as described by François-Marc Gagnon, that “was not only irrational but above reason and was believed to reach sufficiently deeply into the unconscious that it could actually control reason.”
Gagnon wrote of this particular work that “the same ring-shaped composition is found again and in the pure state in…Tom-pouce et les chimères [Tom Thumb and the Chimerae]. Chimeras, which might have been expected among the spirits and ghosts of 1947, make a brief appearance here, but instead of coalescing out of space, they form a ring around the periphery of the canvas. Tom Thumb is the familiar dwarf of children’s stories. There were precedents for references to childhood themes in Borduas’s titles, such as The Dwarf in the Warren of 1946.” Borduas’s intriguing reference to the figure of English fairy tales is possibly a suggestion of its unconscious, irrational source in the supernatural.
This work is included in François-Marc Gagnon’s online catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work at http://www.borduas.concordia.ca, #2005-0286.

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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