Artwork by Paul-Vanier Beaulieu,  Tango (Espagne)

Paul-Vanier Beaulieu
Tango (Espagne)

oil on canvas
signed and titled 1962 lower left; inscribed “Espagne” on the stretcher
18 x 21.5 ins ( 45.7 x 54.6 cms )

Auction Estimate: $7,000.00$5,000.00 - $7,000.00

Price Realized $5,520.00
Sale date: November 23rd 2017

Private Collection, Montreal

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Paul-Vanier Beaulieu
(1910 - 1996) RCA

Born in Montreal in 1910, Paul Beaulieu (Vanier, which he would later adopt, was his mother’s maiden name) was the eldest of seven children. P.V. Beaulieu was arguably one of the most divergent but pivotal painters of twentieth-century Quebec as his style grew to become quite reminiscent of the most important and influential modern painters of pre-WWI Paris.

He enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in 1927, but quit shortly after he became disappointed with the teachings he found there. He left for Paris in 1938, which exposed him to the political, intellectual and artistic stimuli of pre-war Paris. Paul Beaulieu met several leading artists there, including Pablo Picasso, whom he regularly visited in his atelier. He purchased a studio in the Mont Parnasse section of the city where he became a painter of landscapes, figures and still lifes in semi-abstract and modernistic styles. Influences of Picasso’s cubist style and many of his known figures and symbols can be noticed in Beaulieu’s works. Particularly interested in form and design, he applied his paint liberally with a palette knife and brush, in bright colours. Dorothy Pfeiffer, Montreal art critic once wrote in the Montreal Gazette, “ . . . his work is suffused with a subtle and Romanesque love of colour.” Beaulieu’s media included oils, watercolours, lithography and etching. Paul Duval referred to his etchings as “crisp” and used the artist’s aquatint entitled “Illustration” for an example in his book on drawings and prints.

After war was declared in the fall of 1939 and Germany invaded Paris the following year, Paul Beaulieu and his brother Claude were arrested and imprisoned until the Libération in 1944. In 1945, the artist returned to Montreal for a short period before returning to Paris in 1947. His return to Europe corresponded to the first important chapter in his oeuvre. His favourite theme was still life, which he explored with great originality, juxtaposing the integrated landscape in the background to the ensemble of the piece. He exhibited with William Armstrong in Montreal at the Waldorf Galleries, 1953, and held his first one man show at the Dominion Gallery in 1957 and held another showing of 58 paintings there in the autumn of 1959. He exhibited in Quebec, Toronto, New York, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and other centres. He is represented in the Quebec Provincial Museum; The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; the Bezalel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

Beaulieu’s oeuvre is not limited to still life and landscape. He explored many other themes, including portraits, whimsical scenes populated by acrobats and puppets, as well as avant-garde non-figurative compositions. Ultimately, it was the deviant modernist rendering of his shapes and forms that gave rise to and influenced more experimental painting in his native Quebec.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977