PLACE DES ARTS (1947-1954)

Place des Arts was founded in Montreal in 1947 and serves both as a place of work and as a location for arts events. It grew from the initiative of a circle of artists that revolved around Robert Roussil, namely Armand Vaillancourt, Yves Trudeau, Jordi Bonet, Charles Daudelin, Marcelle Ferron, Claude Gauvreau and Jean-Paul Mousseau. It became a site for events related to poetry, jazz, discussions, etc. that regularly took place in various makeshift spaces. In 1950, it hosted an exhibition of the works refused by the jury for the Spring Salon of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ School of Art. Entitled Les Rebelles (“rebels”), the event caused quite a stir and included pieces by Marcelle Ferron, Jean-Paul Mousseau and Marcel Barbeau. Upon moving to 1199 Bleury Street in 1952, Place des Arts expanded its activities to encompass political, ideological, artistic and popular gatherings. These drew the suspicion of municipal authorities, who quickly sent out informants. In 1953, the group behind Place des Arts held a non-juried show entitled Place des artistes at 82 Saint Catherine Street. It featured 350 works by 75 artists who sought to be part of the modernist age and to put forward art that they believed to be contemporary. Over the years, the works presented to the public were systematically ridiculed and many even vandalized or destroyed. In 1954, the workshop on Bleury Street was shut down on the orders of Montreal’s mayor, Camilien Houde, on the pretext that it failed to meet safety standards. Place des Arts had nevertheless brought with it a wave of aesthetic freedom that would have a strong impact on the broader artistic milieu of Quebec.