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Title: Leon Bellefleur and Surrealism in Canadian painting (1940 - 1980) : the transmigration of an ideology
Author: Bellefleur-Attas , Mireille
ISNI:       0000 0001 3456 9084
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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Surrealism made its appearance in Canadian art in the early 1940s, twenty years after its inception in France. The distance, both in terms of space and of time, has had major implications for the manner in which surrealist ideas have been conveyed and transformed pictorially, even as they were assimilated, in this culturally-distinct society. This process may be observed in English Canada, notably in the work of Jock Macdonald and Jack Shadbolt. But it is in French-speaking Quebec that the surrealist philosophy -in particular, its appeal to the unconscious and the non-rational powers of the human mind in apprehending and imaging the real differently- has impacted most profoundly, as its effect there extended, beyond aesthetics, to the social sphere. The climate of repression maintained by the government in collusion with the clergy in the 1940s and 50s provoked dissidence -variously overt or covert-among the avant-garde: in fostering a desire for change, Surrealism played a key role in the struggle, not least at the level of semantics. Two separate groups developed around the prominent figures of Alfred Pellan and Paultmile Borduas, each with a different but ultimately complementary conception, and attendant artistic concerns, of the surrealist ideology. Bridging the two tendencies is the painter L6on Bellefleur (born in 1910), whose oeuvre over a long career epitomises the phenomenon of transmigration that characterises the Canadian experience of Surrealism. Defining himself as a surrealist-inspired artist rather than a Surrealist, Bellefleur has nonetheless consistently drawn on the movement's guiding principles (poetry, love, freedom, automatism), techniques (many based on the concept of 'objective chance'), and ancillary interests (such as the occult), to produce a body of non-figurative works which, defying conventional notions of surrealist art, offer an indigenous vision of Breton's 'convulsive beauty'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available