Les Automatistes  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Canadian Surrealism

Les Automatistes were a group of Québécois artistic dissidents from Montreal, Quebec. The movement was founded in the early 1940s by painter Paul-Émile Borduas. "Les Automatistes" were so called because they were influenced by Surrealism and its theory of automatism. Members included Marcel Barbeau, Roger Fauteux, Claude Gauvreau, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Pierre Gauvreau, Fernand Leduc, Jean-Paul Mousseau, and Marcelle Ferron and Françoise Sullivan.

The movement may have begun with an exhibition Borduas gave in Montreal in 1942. However, "les Automatistes" were soon being exhibited in Paris and New York also. Though it began as a visual arts group, it also spread to other forms of expression, such as drama, poetry and dance. The title "les Automatistes" came from journalist Tancrède Marcil Jr., in a review of their second exhibit in Montreal (February 15 to March 1, 1947), which appeared in Le Quartier Latin (the Université de Montréal's student journal).

In 1948, Borduas published a collective manifesto called the Refus global, which is considered an important document in the cultural history of Quebec. Although the group dispersed soon after the manifesto was published, the movement continues to have influence, and may be considered forerunners of the Quiet Revolution.

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