Total Refusal: The Complete 1948 Manifesto of the Montreal Automatists
translated and introduced by Ray Ellenwood
8vo. pp. xxx, 109. b/w illustrations and photos. wrs. [Holstein, Ontario]: Exile Editions, 2009.
Total Refusal is a collective manifesto in the great European tradition, with close affinities to Surrealism. Inspired by the distinguished painter, Paul-Emile Borduas, it is the expression of a group who are now major figures in the history of the Canadian avant-garde, innovators in abstract painting, theatre and dance. But it is also a document of broad social importance. Vilified by many at the time of its publication in 1948, Borduas' lead manifesto, Refus Global, is now seen as an expression of the widely held frustration and discontent that would lead to the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, a harbinger of sweeping religious, social, political changes to come This is basic reading for anyone interested in the arts in Canada, evidence of the place of Canadian artists in the history of international modernism, Generously illustrated with photographs from the period, the book is introduced with historical and biographical notes.