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MAURICE RAYMOND, A MODERN ARTIST OF QUÉBÉCOIS AND CANADIAN HERITAGE

maurice_raymondFollowing are a few highlights of Maurice Raymond’s life, of the School of Montreal:

He was born on July 23rd, 1912, on Laporte street in St-Henri, on the Island of Montreal. At the end of his life, he was living in Longueuil where he died in march 2006. His father, Raoul Raymond, came from Chambly, and his mother, Isidoria Courville, came from Ottawa. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal from 1930 to 1936. In 1941, he got a scholarship from the Provincial Government, which funded a year of studies in the United States: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington. When he returned from the States, he was hired as a teacher of pictorial composition at Montreal’s École des Beaux-Arts, where he found himself working alongside with his old teachers, Charles Maillard, Henri Charpentier, Maurice Félix, and Joseph Saint-Charles, etc., as well as fellow artists Stanley Cosgrove, Alfred Pellan, Albert Dumouchel, Jacques de Tonnancourt, Jean Simard, Jacques Folch-Ribas, François-Marc Gagnon, Claude Jasmin, Robert Élie and many others. It was in 1945, at the Quebec Provincial Art Competition, that he was awarded the first Grand Prix de Peinture for Le Christ en croix presently at the Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts. The five-members jury included Fernand Léger and Father Couturier.

In 1950, he took a highly stimulating four-month trip through France, England and Italy. From 1957 to 1965, he was the Director of Studies at his old alma mater. During this period, he returned to Europe (1962-63) on a Canada Council grant. From 1966 to 1977, he went back to teaching, which he eventually left for good in 1977, when he retired from the Université du Québec à Montréal which had absorbed the École des Beaux-Arts in 1969. He began some research on color in 1970, which eventually led to the 1977 publication of an article entitled Fixité relative des principales matières picturales (“Relative Fixity of Principal Pictorial Materials”). Finally, throughout that period, he continued to produce paintings until his output stopped due to illness in 1996.

Among other accomplishments, the following deserve mention: several illustrations published in the journal La Province, a few stamps for the Société St-Jean-Baptiste, a comic strip illustrating Adélard Dugré’s novel entitled La Campagne canadienne, produced in the thirties and published later in the Ottawa newspaper le Droit then republished in Ave Maria, a youth magazine (February 1943); participation in the production of monumental murals for the Canadian Pavillion at the New York World Fair in 1939, under the direction of Edwin Holgate and Albert Cloutier, along with Stanley Cosgrove; illustration of a textbook entitled Histoire de France by René Ristelhueber, French ambassador to Canada, published by Variétés, Montreal, 1945; decoration of the church in St?Henri, in cooperation with Stanley Cosgrove and Raymond Pelus (this church has since been demolished); the 1950 “Canadart” experience: personal creations used as printed patterns on fabric, paintings presented at Henry Morgan’s, in Montreal (other participants included: Paul-Émile Borduas, Stanley Cosgrove and Robert Lapalme and F.C.A. Sullivan); a mural at St-Émile church, on Sherbrooke Street East in Montreal (Robillard, Jetté and Beaudoin, architects).

His first individual exhibition took place in 1955 at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal. Another was held at the Centre d’arts des Jeunesses Musicales at Mount Orford, Quebec, in 1958. The Galerie Libre in Montreal held an exhibition entitled Gouaches récentes, in 1963, which included expressionist abstract works. This exhibition was the subject of a review by Claude Jasmin and Jacques Folch-Ribas, which is included among the critical reviews on this site. His Recherches sur la Couleur (Research on Color) are exhibited at the Université du Québec’s Art Gallery in Montreal in 1977. Then a retrospective overview of his work, entitled Cinquante années de travail 1936-1986 was exhibited at the Galerie du 22 mars in 1986, and was the subject of two items written by Lise Bissonnette, also included among the critical reviews. Finally, in 1994, a final exhibition entitled Mes jardins intérieurs (My Inner Gardens) was held practically on a private basis in a room at the Jardins Intérieurs, in Saint Lambert, where he was living at the time. His resumé lists some of the collective exhibitions in which he took part.

Over the years Maurice Raymond was a member of several professional associations. First, in 1956, he was a founding member of the Association des Artistes Non-Figuratifs de Montréal (Montreal Association of Non Representational Artists). In 1966, he took part in founding the Société des Artistes professionnels du Québec (Quebec Society of Professional Artists), which, as of 1983, became the Conseil des Artistes Peintres du Québec (Quebec Council of Artistic Painters). His research on color led him to become a member of the Inter-Society Color Council (United States) in 1970, then to being a founding member, in 1972, of the Canadian Society for Color in Art, Industry and Science, then to being the cofounder of the Centre québécois de la Couleur (Quebec Center for Color). Finally, in 1978, he was elected as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (R.C.A.).

His works are part of private and public collections, including those of the Musée du Québec in Quebec, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Contemporary Art Museum in Montreal, the Art Museum in Joliette, and the Lachine Museum.

As mentioned, Maurice Raymond’s work spans over 66 years, and it features a great variety of works and stylistic approaches: oil on canvas, watercolors, gouaches, charcoal and conté crayon sketches, wax pastels, collages, frescoes, etc. He has completed several orders for emblem designs for the Université de Montreal, for Cardinal Léger, and was responsible for the lettering on diplomas for the Montreal EBA and the Montreal Conservatory of Music, which requires knowledge in the field of lettering. In the fifties, he drew the plans for several liturgical articles: ciborium, chalice, monstrance, candle-holder, tabernacle, for Cassidy-Maillard. There is a well known illustration for the calendar published in connection with the inauguration of St Joseph’s Oratory, and a coloring book representing objects of Quebec heritage, or an illustrated book for second grade students: La ronde des mots, mon deuxième livre d’exercice. He has also designed several pieces of furniture, etc.

I can surely be said that he has touched upon many aspects of an artist’s work: paintings, illustrations, graphics, teaching, research, director of studies, union representative, etc. He has also addressed a wide variety of audiences: the cultured with his abstractions, the popular with his designs for parade floats, children with his coloring books, specialized in the case of certain custom orders. In short, an obviously talented, versatile artist with an unrelenting drive to express his vision.

Maurice Raymond passed away peacefully in Longueuil the 20th of March 2006.