Welcome to the World of Visual Arts

Thu 20 Dec, 2012

In the next several months, you'll be able to visit this section for a quarterly review of what's new, what's hot, and what's trending this season. But for now, we thought it best to get started with a history of the discipline's deep roots in Quebec's Anglo arts community. The following essay can be read in its complete, interactive form at the RAEV.ca website, as well as in the book Minority Report: An Alternative History of English-Language Arts in Quebec, published by Guernica Editions in 2011.


By Lori Callaghan

In the last decade, the visual arts community in Quebec has experienced a surge in momentum. New galleries have opened and are actively reaching out to the Canadian and international art worlds. Successful new festivals have cropped up, putting the province in the arts spotlight. And a new generation of visual artists has begun to make its mark on a city known for its fusion of cultures, its famously affordable studio and living spaces, and its proximity to major arts centres, Toronto and New York. In addition to the new talents emerging from Montreal, the city is home to many established artists like Paul Litherland, a photographer and multi-media artist whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, and Catherine Widgery, an American-born artist whose larger-than-life sculptures dot the landscape from the Université de Montreal to the Rimouski Museum. Meanwhile, the rural regions of Quebec, from the Laurentians to the Eastern Townships and the Gaspé shore, are full of towns and villages where many sculptors, painters, printmakers, and other visual artists work.

Montreal, with its many galleries, workshops, and art studios, continues to be the province's focal point for visual arts. Numerous young artists come for Concordia University's Faculty of Fine Arts in order to cultivate their skills. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Arts attract thousands of visitors annually, and galleries like Parisian Laundry, DHC/ART and several spaces in the Belgo Building are pushing the contemporary art agenda forward.

Quebec has a long tradition of visual arts and discussions often focus on the Francophone evolutions, such as Les Automatistes and the events surrounding the Refus global, movements that were important to both the province's art community and its nationalist history. Anglo- and Allophone artists have also made significant contributions, and over the last couple decades their stories have begun to surface, adding to the narrative of the province's already rich and provocative artistic past.