AUTO CAS QMG RCA
1905 - 1960
limited edition book, 1948
editioned 308/400 and on verso inscribed "Francine Laurendeau"
8 5/8 x 7 3/8 in, 21.9 x 18.7 cm
Estimate: $10,000 - $12,000 CAD
Sold for: $12,500
Preview at: Heffel Montreal
Collection of Francine Laurendeau
Librairie Bonheur d'occasion, Montreal
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Montreal
The year 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Refus global manifesto, published on August 9, 1948, by Éditions Mithra-Mythe and released at Librairie Tranquille in Montreal. Heffel is proud and honoured to present a copy of this historically significant document to the market in celebration of its anniversary.
Written by Paul-Émile Borduas, Refus global—which translates into English as “total refusal”—is a landmark text in Quebec’s history, signalling an important cultural shift in the province that culminated with the Quiet Revolution. The text challenged the establishment and traditional values in Quebec; it was, in Roald Nasgaard’s words, “a passionate attack on all the repressive social, political, historical and religious forces that had shaped the Quebecois people…”  In addition to being the driving force behind the Automatist movement, it is now regarded as a milestone in the modernization of “la belle province,” exposing it to the cosmopolitan ideas of the post-war era.
The book was printed in an edition of 400 copies and includes the eponymous manifesto, two essays on language and Surrealism by Borduas, three short plays by Claude Gauvreau, an essay on dance by Françoise Sullivan, Bruno Cormier’s text on pictorial art, a poem by Fernand Leduc and photographs by Maurice Perron. The book was co-signed by 15 other artists: Madeleine Arbour (designer), Marcel Barbeau, Bruno Cormier (psychiatrist), Marcelle Ferron, Claude Gauvreau, Pierre Gauvreau, Muriel Guilbault (actor), Fernand Leduc, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Maurice Perron (photographer), Louise Renaud (lighting designer), Thérèse Renaud (poet), Françoise Riopelle (dancer and choreographer), Jean Paul Riopelle—who painted the cover art—and Françoise Sullivan.
This copy of Refus global belonged to Francine Laurendeau, who worked as film critic for the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir. Laurendeau famously led a student strike along with Bruno Meloche and Jean-Pierre Goyer in 1958, to make university education accessible to all.
The book is accompanied by a copy of Le Vierge incendié, Paul-Marie Lapointe’s first collection of poems, also published in 1948 by Mithra-Mythe—publishers of Refus global. This copy is edition 182 of 400, and the cover is a lithographic reproduction of a drawing by artist Pierre Gauvreau. Le Vierge incendié, Refus global and Projections libérantes (1949, also by Borduas) are the only three books ever published by Mithra-Mythe. This is a rare occasion to acquire two limited-edition books of major cultural significance in the history of Quebec.
1. Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada (Halifax: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, in assoc. With Douglas & McIntyre, 2007), 83.
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