Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 3, No. 3, 2004

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Robert J. Lewis
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Bernard Dube
Phil Nixon
Mark Goldfarb
Robert Rotondo
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Emanuel Pordes
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Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
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Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein

sculptor painter innovator



Armand Vaillancourt made the cover of Newsweek in 1973. His works have been featured twice in Time Magazine. In 1967 he won Canada’s Governor General’s Award. He was commissioned by the City of San Franscisco (1967-1971) to design and supervise the construction of the world-famous Vaillancourt Fountain. But the sum of these deserving recognitions tells nothing of the artist’s imagination or how it informs his inspired approach to being-in-the-world.

When it comes to post-modern art, I was as skeptical as the next person until Armand Vaillancourt invited me to see his work which overfills the many rooms of his home on Esplanade St. in Montreal, as well as the huge installations crammed into his ample yard. However, it was only after the art had been viewed and we were well on our way to a nearby café, that what I call the Vaillancourt-effect began to take hold.

Keeping up with hyperactive and agile 74 years old Armand Vaillancourt is a fast-walk, sudden-stop affair. “Look at this,” he says with a child’s delight in discovering the endlessly fascinating world around him. Armand is admiring two vaguely opposed dents in a less than pleasant smelling municipal garbage can. “Imagine painting the first dent in red, the second yellow, the barrel in black and putting it on a revolving stand. It would be beautiful.” Come on Armand, I say to myself. That’s not art. A minute later he stops again. “Look over here.” He’s now admiring the grain on a wooden window sill where the paint has peeled back. “Isn’t it beautiful,” he says, not particularly interested in whether I agree or not, so enraptured is he by it. “Imagine it ten times its size, in a museum. Everyone would stop and look at it.”

Three or four art-stops later, we finally arrive at his favorite café on the corner of St. Laurent and Rachel.

The magic and majesty of Armand Vaillancourt lie in his refusal to accept the ugliness and banality of the things of the world. Through the imaginative technique of recontextualization, he makes us understand that the beauty we overlook is not a fault of the thing itself but rather a shortcoming in ourselves. His example inspires us to take responsibility for our imagination (the body’s most under-exercised muscle), and by extension, the aesthetic state of affairs of the world. If most industrial waste is geared to recyclage, Vaillancourt expropriates what are ordinarily regarded as uninteresting, utilitarian objects – from rusted-out lathes to rotted tree trunks to junked car hoods – and resituates them in order to elicit their purity, their symmetries, the harmony of their parts, their natural beauty. Spend a day with Vaillancourt and he will have you believing there isn’t anything that can’t be rendered beautiful, such is the power of the artist to transform our world.

Among Vaillancourt’s most innovative and magnificent works are his bronze sculptures from the 1970s made from Styrofoam moulds and cast in the lost wax technique. They are currently on exhibit at La Galleria, 1618 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal.

For further information you may contact the owner: Josef Mizzi at or (514) 932-7585.
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