Refus Global (Total Refusal)

June 9, 2017

Refus Global

Refus Global. Paul-Émile Borduas, et al., 1948. Canadian Museum of History Resource Centre, RARE N 6546 Q8 R44 1948


On August 9, 1948, Refus global (Total Refusal) was released in Montréal. This manifesto was signed by 15 members of the group known as Les Automatistes, led by painter Paul-Émile Borduas, the principal author of the document. The manifesto condemned the climate of “great darkness” that reigned over Quebec society because of its attachment to traditional values, the stranglehold of the Catholic Church and the authoritarian government of Maurice Duplessis. Refus global voiced the need for liberation so that “collective hope” could be born anew. The incendiary text caused an uproar, and Borduas exiled himself, first to the United States and then to France. He died in Paris in 1960, the year that the Quiet Revolution began. Refus global was an early indication of the Quiet Revolution to come.

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