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Alfred Pellan

Wide-awake Dreamer

Any time Gallery 11

Alfred Pellan, the wide-awake dreamer, explored a great many art forms, techniques and materials, a demonstration of his visceral need to create. A new display worthy of this artist imbued with Surrealism, from universal quest to individual expression and from grand paintings to everyday objects.

This exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to dive into the surrealist universe of Alfred Pellan, one of the best-known figures of Québec’s cultural modernity. During his extended stay in Paris, from 1926 to 1940, Pellan was smitten with Picasso’s Cubist space and the Surrealist universe of Breton, Ernst and Miró. While he was not an official member of the famous group, preferring to maintain his artistic independence, Pellan was always responsive to this “state of poetry” which, to his mind, was the movement’s essential quest. It was only when he returned to Québec in the 1940s that this Surrealist direction in his artistic idiom was confirmed. While it initially took the form of illustrations of poetry, Pellan’s affinity with the movement quickly extended to his entire artistic practice, as can be seen in the thematic repertoire, stylistic elements and Surrealist techniques he regularly employed.


Download the mobile application Alfred Pellan: An Interactive Experience, designed to let you experience the artist’s imaginary world to the full, whether at home or at the Musée. Available free of charge, it has original content, provides access to archival material and includes an interactive game and a work in augmented reality. 

 
 
 

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    Alfred PellanUltraviolet Lemons1947. Oil on canvas, 208 x 167,3 cm. MNBAQ  collection

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    Alfred Pellan, Man Engraving, 1948. Gouache and ink on paper, 29,8 x 22,8 cm. MNBAQ collection

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    Alfred Pellan, Venus and the Bull, 1938? Oil on canvas. 73,5 x 50 cm. MNBAQ collection

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    Alfred PellanBestiaire 3e, 1974. Oil and ink on cardoard, 26,3 x 37 cm. MNBAQ collection, Legs Madeleine Poliseno Pelland

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Chronology

1906
Alfred Pelland is born on 16 May in Québec City. Around 1930, he removes the “d” from his family name.

1921
Pellan enrols in the newly-opened École des beaux-arts de Québec on Saint-Joachim St. in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhood.

1926
Alfred Pellan and Omer Parent are the first recipients of the province of Québec’s arts grants. The two friends set sail for Paris, where Pellan enters the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts.

1940
Back home because of the Second World War, Pellan exhibits 161 works at the Musée de la province de Québec (today the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec). This exhibition, entitled Alfred Pellan, also mounted on a reduced scale at the Art Association of Montreal (today the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), is the opportunity for Pellan to launch an initial attack against academicism in favour of a living art.

1944
Pellan is named the École des beaux-arts de Montréal’s professor of painting. The following year, several of his students mount a noisy protest against the academicism that reigns there, demanding the departure of the school’s director, Charles Maillard, who resigns a few months later.

1948
Fourteen artists band together around Pellan for the exhibition Prisme d’yeux (Prism of Eyes), accompanied by a manifesto of the same title. The text, written by Jacques de Tonnacour and signed by all the artists, expresses Pellan’s commitment to an independent art that is open to more than one artistic movement.

1949
On 23 July, Alfred Pellan marries Madeleine Poliseno, whom he met in the summer of 1947 at a social gathering at the home of Jacques de Tonnacour.


1950
The couple settles in Sainte-Rose in a nineteenth-century home near Mille Îles River. This house, where Pellan has his studio until his death, is today is the property of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

1955
The Musée national d’art moderne de Paris presents Pellan, the first true large-scale retrospective exhibition of Pellan’s work.

1969
The documentary film About Pellan, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is launched at the opening of a solo exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The opening takes the form of a happening, with members of the public in costume and multi-coloured slides projected onto dancers dressed in white.

1972
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée du Québec organize the joint exhibition Pellan, the first retrospective of his work on Canadian soil.

1984
Alfred Pellan receives the prestigious Paul-Émile Borduas award, the highest distinction in the visual arts in Québec.

1988
With Alfred Pellan’s agreement, the Musée du Québec and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal join forces to mount a major exhibition of his paintings. Pellan dies on 31 October this same year. The exhibition Alfred Pellan, une rétrospective is finally shown in Montréal and then Québec City in 1993.

2006
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec acquires the Maison Alfred et Madeleine Pellan.

2010
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec receives a bequest of Pellan’s studio archives in keeping with the last wishes of Madeleine Poliseno-Pelland, who passes away on 27 September. The Musée now holds the largest collection of Alfred Pellan’s work.