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 Rodolphe De (Jauran) Repentigny  (1926 - 1959)

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Lived/Active: Quebec/Alberta / Canada      Known for: geometric abstract painting, photography, art criticism

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Rodolphe Bourgogne is primarily known as Rodolphe De (Jauran) Repentigny

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Rodolphe de Repentigny (AKA: Jauran, AKA: François Bourgogne) (1) was a painter, photographer, journalist, art theoretician and art critic.  He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where, other than for education and travel, he lived his whole life.  He died in a mountain climbing accident on Victoria Glacier in the Canadian Rockies (2).  In spite of a short professional career (3), which lasted only seven years, from the time he left the Sorbonne (4), until the time he died, his name appears in most books about Canadian art history and Canadian modern art.  This is largely because of his influence as an art critic and journalist and as a leader in three groups: the short lived, but pivotal, artist association, Les Plasticiens* (founder); the much larger Non-figurative Artists' Association of Montreal* (Secretary); and, the International Association of Art Critics* (President of the Canadian branch).

His painting mediums were oil, acrylic and gouache.  As an abstractionist and a Plasticien, the subjects of his work were the plastic elements of painting - tone, texture, form and line; the objective being a harmonious composition devoid of meaning or reference to anything in the real world.  His style while theoretically dedicated to Geometric Abstraction* is also reminiscent of the puzzle-like designs of Synthetic Cubism*.

Quote: ‘The Plasticiens are drawn, above all else in their work, to the “plastic” facts: tone, texture, form, line, the ultimate unity of these in painting, and the relationship between these elements … The significance of the work of the Plasticiens lies with the purifying of the plastic elements and of their order; their destiny lies typically in the revelation of perfect forms in a perfect order … The Plasticiens are totally indifferent, at least consciously so, to any possible meanings in their paintings.’ - Rodolphe de Repentigny.

Though the period of his work as a painter was brief, and his output small, his works are nevertheless avidly collected.  They are also in several important public collections. According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network*, there are 42 Repentigny (Jauran) works in Canadian museums. The Museum of Quebec (Quebec City) has the largest collection which includes 18 photographic works and 5 paintings. The Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Canada also have his paintings in their collections.  

Posthumously, his works have been included in public venue group exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art twice in 1967 (May and July); there again in the 1977 exhibition “Jauran et les Premiers Plasticiens, 1954 – 1956”; and at the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec) in the 2005 exhibition, “Les Plasticiens: Louis Belzile, Jauran, Jean-Paul Jérôme and Fernand Toupin”,  to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Plasticien Manifesto.

As mentioned above, his work is illustrated and discussed in most recent books about Canadian art history and Canadian modern art. There is also the book, L' Oeil de la Critique: Rodolphe de Repentigny: Escrits sur l'Art et Theorie Esthetique, 1952-1959 (1990) by Marie Carani (5).

 

Footnotes:

(1) He painted under the name Jauran; wrote for La Presse, a Montreal newspaper, as an art critic from 1952 to 1959 under the name Repentigny; and wrote for L’Authoite, a weekly, and Vie des Arts, a magazine, under the name Bourgogne.

(2) The accident details, according to A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald are: “In the summer of 1959 with three other climbers he attempted to traverse the Victoria Glacier in the Lake Louise area. Three members of the party had crossed safely over a snow bridge of a hidden crevasse but when de Repentigny was making his attempt, the bridge collapsed under him causing him to fall sixty feet to his death.  One of the surviving climbers was lowered to the bottom of the crevasse and recovered the body.”

(3) And, an even shorter painting career, according to Abstract Painting in Canada by Roald Nasgaard, Repentigny stopped painting in 1956 to devote more time to writing.

(4) He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris from 1949 to 1952 and, before that, mathematics at the University of Montreal.

(5) Author’s translation – The Critical Eye: Rodolphe de Repentigny: Writings on Art and Aesthetic Theory.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

 



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