This delicate but impactful drawing is the earliest work in our exhibition A Private Collection from Quebec. It demonstrates how automatism became a practice of the avant-garde, not only in Quebec but in many art centers around the world in the post-war years. 

Jean-Paul Mousseau (1927-1991) began painting at the young age of thirteen. As a young man, he went to École du Meuble, Montreal where he studied under Paul-Émile Borduas, the inspirational leader of the Automatistes. In 1948, he was one of the signatories of the Refus Global manifesto; which not only challenged academic standards of art but also the Catholic Church's grip on society. 

Artists associated with the Automatistes were inspired by surrealism and the art-making method known as automatism. They embraced elements of chance and the subconscious mind in their creative expression.

This untitled dynamic drawing from 1947 demonstrates the artist's mastery of color, texture, and form in an intimate format. Mousseau creates a web of straight lines inked in detailed layers of orange, crimson, and purple. It suggests the spatial depth of an architectural drafting and the intuitive nature which lies at the core of his practice.

Jean-Paul Mosseau’s greatest impact came from his unprecedented integration of visual art and architecture. Like a number of his contemporaries, he was an early proponent and contributor of public art in Quebec. At a time of political and social change in the province, he committed to his belief in the power of art (specifically non-figurative art) in urban environments. Later in his career, he expanded this democratic ethos by creating murals (such as in the Montreal metro) and collaborations with architects. 

The artist's work can be found in museum collections across the country, most notably the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montréal. Ultimately, Mosseau’s liberated vision and intention will be remembered through his vibrant public artworks. 

Questions about this piece? Contact us or call 416.704.1720

​​Jean-Paul Mousseau

“Untitled Drawing”

Canada, 1947

Ink on paper 

Signed and dated by the artist, lower right

6.75”H 8.25”W (work) 

Very good condition

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