M u s e u m  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

Freedom!

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Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec

The project:
Explore an effervescent period in Quebec’s history through the work of renowned Quebec artists and create your own work of art . . . in complete freedom!
The context:
In the 1960s, Quebec was in the midst of great changes, in both the artistic and the social realms: more and more people wanted to shake up the society’s opposition to progress so that Quebec could take its development in hand. The result was the “Quiet Revolution.” Already in the late 1940s and the 1950s artists had called traditional values into question and explored new modes of expression. Their rallying cry: freedom!
Recommendations:
Target audience: Secondary II students (grades 9 and 10)
Disciplines: Society and culture, visual arts
Material required:
•A computer with an Internet connection to consult reference sites
•Access to the site (the address of the virtual exhibition)
•Access to presentation software (such as PowerPoint)
•5 small rectangles of paper per person
•A hat or large container
•A sheet of paper no larger than 21 x 28 cm per person
•Pencils, erasers, a fine-tipped black felt pen, brightly coloured felt pens
Getting started:
Ask the students: Do they know any Quebec or Canadian artists? Have they ever heard of or seen work by Borduas, Riopelle, Pellan or Ferron? In 1948, these Quebec artists wrote a manifesto. What’s a manifesto? Have they heard of the manifesto Refus global (Total Refusal)? Or Prismed’Yeux?
Manifestos were published during the period of the Great Darkness, before the Quiet Revolution. Discuss the context of the Great Darkness (Maurice Duplessis, the stranglehold of the Church) to raise some possible reasons why these artists called everything into question and explored new modes of expression.

Resources:
-Radio-Canada archives: Refus global, http://archives.radio-canada.ca/arts_culture/arts_visuels/clips/837/ (2:42)
-Radio-Canada archives: The «Dark age » of Quebec, http://www.cbc.ca/player/Digital+Archives/CBC+Programs/Radio/IDEAS/ID/1826149762/
(1:06) of Quebec
1. A multimedia biography
Artists are a part of their era; some are avant-garde, others examine society and contest certain aspects of it. It is interesting to situate artists in the historical context of the manifesto era in Quebec.

As a group, prepare a multimedia biography of an artist from the manifesto era—Paul-Émile Borduas, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Alfred Pellan or Marcelle Ferron—using images, sound and video (for example PowerPoint or a video clip).
Content:
- Summary of the artist’s life
- His or her artistic output at the time of Refus global or Prismed’Yeux
- What did Refus global or Prismed’Yeux represent for them? (Connect to the historical context)

Present the biographies.
Discussion: What kind of manifesto would someone write today?
2. Creation: Fantastic Worlds
During the manifesto era, Alfred Pellan’s vision of art extolled freedom. He took inspiration from modern European art movements such as Surrealism and Cubism to create fantastic worlds. The contemporary artists’ collective En masse also creates fantastic mural art inspired by graphic novels and graffiti.

-In the exhibition Discover Quebec and Canadian Art view the Pellan piece Au soleil bleu (Under the Blue Sun). Comment on the arrangement of the elements in the space of the painting (free-floating, the lack of perspective, objects placed in every direction), the colours and the motifs.
-Read the biography of Pellan and connected links.
-View the work of the En masse collective on-line. Observe the way the images interpenetrate, the way they extend and intertwine without interruption.
-As a preparatory activity, create exquisite corpses (see glossary) to make sure the students grasp the idea of a fantastic world.
Creation (suite)
-Ask the students to write down the names of objects (banana, tree, umbrella, etc.) on 5 small rectangular pieces of paper. Put them in a hat to be drawn out.
-Have each student draw 3 to 5 words out of the hat to incorporate (meaning to conceal) in a fantastic image.
-On a small sheet of paper (no larger than 21 x 28 cm), use a pencil to draw the objects whose names were taken from the hat.
-Add other images and shapes to make connections between the objects. The sheet should be filled.
-Use a fine-tipped black felt pen to trace the images, and erase the pencil.
-Fill in using brightly-coloured felt pens (leave in black fields and fields with motifs).
-Add motifs, when appropriate, in the coloured fields and on the images.
-As a way of discussing the activity, have the students try to identify the initial images in their friends’ projects.
Discover Quebec and Canadian Art
You will find here activities designed to stimulate reflection and give rise to discussions through fun and inspiring visual art activities.
View the collection

Learning Object Collection: Discover Quebec and Canadian Art

Learning Objectives

This multidisciplinary activity invites students to discover an important historical period and an avant-garde artistic movement, the manifesto era in Quebec in the 1940s and 50s, and then to create a work of art inspired by artists from this period, in complete freedom! The activity joins society and culture concepts (history) with the visual arts.

Culture and Society:
•Investigate the relationship between the visual arts, society and other contexts
•Examine social realities from a historical perspective
•Add to one’s knowledge of key cultural phenomena and related vocabulary: national affirmation, nationalism
•Observe the dynamic between changing attitudes and the role of the state in the modernization of Quebec society
•Question the influence of ideas on cultural phenomena
•Evaluate the artistic or intellectual contribution of individuals and groups to Canadian identity

Visual Arts:
•Appreciate works of art and cultural objects from our artistic heritage
•Enrich the knowledge of cultural landmarks based on elements of art history: art periods (academicism, modernity), new values, demands (manifestos: Prismed’Yeux, Refus global)
•Examine the role of artists as agents of change and their effects on society, groups and individuals
•Explore creative ideas inspired by artists’ work
•Create one’s own images, applying visual arts principles and criteria (composition, colour, form)
•Share one’s creative experience by identifying the initial images in the other students’ work