Artworks and Artists
Claude Tousignant
Born in Montreal, Quebec, 23 December 1932

Claude Tousignant

"What I wish to do is make painting objective, to bring it back to its source - where only painting remains, emptied of all extraneous matter - to the point at which painting is pure sensation."
Claude Tousignant, 1959

From the very beginning, Claude Tousignant devoted himself to the creation of abstract art. His original concern was primarily to express himself through colour, but he subsequently became interested in the shape of his work. Gradually these two aspects of his painting came to take on equal importance.

Tousignant attended the School of Art and Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1948-51), where he studied with Jacques de Tonnancour and Gordon Webber, a former pupil of Moholy Nagy who introduced Tousignant to works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Adolf Gottlieb. In 1952, Tousignant traveled to Paris, only to return six months later to a thriving Montreal artistic community. Tousignant became a key member of the Plasticiens, a group of artists who wished to rid painting of all expressive or accidental content in order to focus on the relations between colours, forms, formats and supports.

In the 1960's, Tousignant, having explored the possibilities of circles, began producing circular paintings with concentric rings of contrasting colours, which he successively entitled targets, chromatic transformers, gongs and chromatic accelerators. These abstract paintings do not represent the world around us, but rather the culmination of Tousignant's research on the potential of the circle and colour. Many of the colours in these works possess a density and an energy that often serves to convey a vigorously contained emotion.