June 1, 2018

“Figures schématiques”: the $3.6 Million Borduas

Painting becomes the highest-selling Borduas ever

The sale of Paul-Émile Borduas’s 1956 work Figures schématiques set a new record for the artist’s work at the Heffel Fine Art auction in Toronto on May 30, 2018. Although it came as no surprise to the auction house when it sold for just over $3.6 million (pre-auction estimates suggested the painting would sell for between $3 and $5 million), the sale has redefined Borduas’s importance in Canadian art history.


Throughout his career, the Quebec artist sought a new freedom for visual expression, opposing the narrow nationalism of mid-twentieth-century Quebec. In the 1940s, Borduas founded the Automatistes, an avant-garde group of like-minded young artists and intellectuals. Borduas’s interest in creating art without a preconceived idea helped transform Canadian visual culture.


Read Paul-Émile Borduas: Life & Work by François Marc-Gagnon to learn more about the artistic anarchist and rebellious theorist.

Paul-Émile Borduas, Figures schématiques, 1956, oil on canvas, 129.8 x 200.4 cm.

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