Refus global

Refus global was a manifesto, the principal essay of which was written by the painter Paul-Émile Borduas and signed by 15 members of the Automatistes Group. It included texts by Bruno Cormier (later a psychoanalyst), poet Claude Gauvreau, painter Fernand Leduc and Françoise Sullivan (then a dancer) and illustrations of works by members of the group. It was launched at the Librairie Tranquille in Montréal on 9 August 1948.

Refus global not only challenged the traditional values of Québec ("To hell with the holy-water-sprinkler and the tuque!") but also fostered an opening-up of Québec society to international thought. The manifesto advocated a strong need for liberation, if not "resplendent anarchy," and anticipated the coming of a "new collective hope."

That was enough to cause the authorities to have Borduas removed from his post at the École du meuble, where he had been teaching since 1937. The Québec press echoed the sentiments of the government and largely censured the manifesto. From the date of Refus global's publication to January 1949, more than 100 hundred newspaper or magazine articles were published condemning the manifesto.

Read the text of the Refus global manifesto.