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Beaulieu, Paul-Vanier

Beaulieu, Paul-Vanier

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Paul-Vanier Beaulieu was born in Montreal on March 24th, 1910. His father, Joseph-Alphonse Beaulieu was a lawyer and introduced his children to art at an early age. He was an avid art collector and owned a library full of books about art. It was around the age of 10 that the young Paul started developing a passion for art through his father’s books.

Paul-Vanier Beaulieu quickly realized that he wanted to become a professional painter and persuaded his parents to let him study at the Montreal School of Fine Arts, where he enrolled at 17. Even though he had a passion for art, he did not like the institution’s rigidity and lacked discipline as a student. He aspired for more freedom, so he left the school halfway during his third year, with a dream of moving to Paris. For this, he needed more funds and so opened his own publicity studio in a building in Philips Square, Montréal. His business went well for 6 years but became hard to maintain because of the financial crisis. He then worked as a waiter and saved enough money to move to Paris and join his brother there.

Once in Paris, he was a frequent visitor of the studios of Picasso, Zadkine, Giacometti and other Canadian artists like Dallaire and Pellan. The School of Paris took him by storm and he quickly started drawing his inspiration from great Parisian Masters. He lived a wonderful life in Paris and created abundantly, but his dream was abruptly interrupted in 1940 when his brother and he were arrested as civil prisoners because of their British-Canadian immigrant status. He had to stay 4 years in a working camp in St-Denis. In 1944, a first solo exhibition of his work was held in Gallery Henriette Vallot, Vaugiard Street, and was a great success.

He came back to Québec after having stayed 7 years abroad. There, he developed an interest for the artists of the Contemporary Art Society surrounding John Lyman, including André Biéler, Paul-Émile Borduas, Stanley Cosgrove, Goodridge Roberts, Fritz Brandtner, Marian Dale Scott, Jack Humphrey, and Philip Surrey. His first exhibition in Québec was presented within the walls of his family home, 3679 Laval Street. His work was inspired by great European masters of the time like Cézanne, Matisse, Braque and Picasso. The themes he explored were mainly still life’s, harlequins, and circus themes.

Paul-Vanier Beaulieu was not impressed by the artistic climate of Québec, so he decided to move back to Paris, to his old studio in Montparnasse. There he created numerous pieces and received acclaim from collectors and critiques. In 1951, one of his paintings was acquired by the Paris Museum of Modern Art, and it was the first piece from a Canadian artist in the museum’s collection. He worked on painting, etching and watercolour. During the spring of 1958, he was invited by curator Bernard Dorival to present his work in the Paris Museum of Modern Art, in an exhibition titled Three Canadian Painters, alongside Alfred Pellan and Jean-Paul Riopelle.

He moved back definitely to Québec in 1973, where he kept painting with passion. He was inspired by the Laurentides landscapes. He passed away on the 20th of April 1996 in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts.

Paul-Vanier Beaulieu’s work is part of various public collections, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Canadian Museum of Fine Arts, and the Québec.

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