Denis Juneau ARC/RCA

Denis Juneau was born in the Montréal district of Verdun on September 30, 1925. In 1943, at the age of 18, he enrolled in Montréal’s École des beaux-arts, where he continued to study until 1950. Among his teachers at the school, Alfred Pellan would have a decisive influence on him. Following his studies at the École de Beaux-arts, he explored various areas, serving as an apprentice goldsmith with Georges Delerue in 1951 and interning as a designer with goldsmith Gilles Beaugrand the following year.

 

In 1954, obtaining a contract for a marble sculpture took him to Italy. He then discovered the vibrancy of post-war Europe, and fell under the spell of Italian design. A visit that year to the 10th edition of Milan’s Triennale, which featured industrial design, made him decide to enroll at the Centro Studi Arte/Industria in the city of Novara, where he studied for two years under the guidance of the school’s founder, Nino di Salvatore. There he explored techniques for incorporating art into industrial environments and absorbed a modern design spirit that would have an impact on his approach to art. That there should be an economy of means and harmony within every composition were the core principles among the others he learned. Narrative gave way to the creation of spaces connecting forms and colours to convey the inherent order in physical phenomena. The art critic Rodolphe de Repentigny would write that Juneau would lead us to “metaphorical works in which each form plays the role of a symbol in an algebraic formula.”   

 

Returning to Montréal in 1956, he found a community that was receptive to his conception of art. He, along with Jean Goguen, Guido Molinari and Claude Tousignant, would constitute the second generation of Plasticien artists. The following years were prolific in terms of creative output as well as group and solo exhibitions. His appearance on the art scene was lauded for the ethereal and original look of his work. In 1959, Fernand Leduc invited him to take part in the exhibition Art Abstrait, which marked the official arrival of that new generation of Plasticiens. 

 

Denis Juneau’s work has been exhibited frequently in Canada, as well as in New York, Washington, Paris, London, Brussels and Spoleto. Among the major shows devoted to his art, the touring exhibition Juneau, organized by the Consulate General of Canada in New York (1975–1976), Denis Juneau: New Perspectives, 1956–1984, presented at the National Gallery of Canada (1984–1985), and Ponctuations, a retrospective produced by the Musée du Québec (2001–2002) particularly stand out. 

 

Denis Juneau was the recipient of a number of honours, including the 1986 Gershon Iskowitz Foundation Prize and the 2008 Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas. 

 

Denis Juneau died at the age of 89 in Montréal on October 6, 2014.

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