Armand Vaillancourt

(1929 – )

“Vaillancourt has been celebrated for his monumental sculptural installations using various experimental techniques and materials including wielded metals, steel, bronze, wood and natural stone.”

Armand Vaillancourt Artwork

Armand Vaillancourt

Armand Vaillancourt, ca. 1955-1960, untitled
burnt wood sculpture, 25 inches, 31 ins with base,

Armand Vaillancourt

Armand Vaillancourt was born in Black Lake, Quebec in 1929. Vaillancourt has been recognized and celebrated as an important Canadian sculptor , painter and performance artist. In 1953, early in his career, Vaillancourt sculpted L’arbre de la rue Durocher, which was a public sculpture in Montreal that was quite controversial when conceived. The conception of the sculpture was a rebellious act by Vaillancourt to save a tree that was destined for destruction. It took the artist over two years to complete and upon completion the tree reflected a semi-abstracted sculptural form. Vaillancourt was awarded first prize for this sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, 1954. The tree was eventually moved to the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec. 

Armand Vaillancourt established an active sculpture studio in Montreal upon graduation from art school. His early works from the mid to late 1950’s resembled totemic poles, and appeared like sequences of repeated organically-shaped modules . These organic sculptures were created by burning, carving and chiselling wood in to abstracted forms. 

Armand Vaillancourt is also recognized for his experiments with sculptural techniques and materials. Vaillancourt uses a variety of materials in his work, including welded metals, steel, bronze, wood and natural stone, to create monumental statements through his sculptural installations. In the late 1950’s, Armand Vaillancourt developed an original method of casting abstract bronze sculptures. He focused his creativity on this casting process for roughly a decade. Vaillancourt used styrofoam and other inflammable soft plastics, packed them in sand to form a mould for pouring molten metal . This technique allowed him to create improvised organic shapes similar to rugged volcanic rock formations. Armand Vaillancourt’s work has often been ignited by political events or ideas. In 1971, he was commissioned to create a sculpture for the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Vaillancourt titled his sculpture “Quebec Libre”, an enormous fountain, 200 feet long, 140 feet wide and 36 feet high sitting in the city’s financial district. The sculpture symbolized for Vaillancourt his support for the freedom of people in Quebec, and for all of humanity. Armand Vaillancourt created El Clamor, a major public sculpture in 1985 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This sculpture was 23 feet long, 7 feet wide and 10 feet high, surrounded by barbed wire and surmounted by 92 steel hands. A large dove sits on top of the installation. Vaillancourt described this public sculpture as a symbol of vital energy of every oppressed population, symbolic of the freedom that is inside every individual that cannot be imprisoned. Vaillancourt’s public sculptures can also be seen in many other cities across Canada and North America. Armand Vaillancourt’s works can be seen on permanent display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musee D’art Contemporain de Montreal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada. His works have been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally. His career has been the subject of documentary films, including the film titled Vaillancourt, produced in 1964 by the National Film Board of Canada, as well as an independent production in 2001, titled, Armand Vaillancourt, a Breath Burning. 

Armand Vaillancourt won the distinguished Prix Paul-Emile Borduas in 1993. In 2004 Vaillancourt was honoured as a knight of the Order of Quebec. Vaillancourt continues to work in Montreal, Quebec. 

Judith Parker, Artists in Canada website, compiled February 2008,
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, National Gallery of Canada.

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