The Signs Take Flight 1953

Paul-Émile Borduas, The Signs Take Flight, 1953

Paul-Émile Borduas, The Signs Take Flight (Les signes s’envolent), 1953

Oil on canvas, 114 x 148 cm

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Signs Take Flight was created in the autumn of 1953, shortly after Borduas left Montreal and was living in New York. He gave the work a descriptive title, “Meeting on the Plain” (Rencontre dans la plaine), at the time it was made. As the two titles suggest, this painting announces if not the departure of the “signs” (the “objects” that feature in his earlier paintings), then at least their vanishing in the ground (the “plain”), which is also painted with a palette knife and against which they assume a greater density in the foreground of the painting. Here Borduas is moving toward the type of composition typical of his New York period: soon the last vestiges of the objects will shatter and scatter their fragments across the entire surface of the canvas. 

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