Jean-Julien Bourgault - Bearing witness to an Epoch

Jean-Julien Bourgault - Bearing witness to an Epoch

Until January 7, 2018

Jean-Julien Bourgault (1910-1996) was a prolific sculptor of wood who enjoyed much public prestige, but whose rich career and singular position in the history of 20th century Québec art is as yet little explored. This first retrospective exhibition of 80 works provides a comprehensive and illuminating portrait of the artistic contribution made during his career.


The artistic adventure of Jean-Julien Bourgault germinated in the village of his birth, Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, during the peak of the economic crisis of the 30s. His development was aided by the inspiration of older brothers Médard and André, both of whom also sculpted in wood. As a self-taught artist, Bourgault was immersed since childhood in a family environment that was known locally for its knowledge of fine woodcraft, an expertise that would infuse his work in all sorts of stimulating ways.


Skilful and tireless chronicler of the times in which he lived, Bourgault recorded in his works the tales, legends and local customs passed down by oral tradition. At the same time, he used an expressionistic style to convey by means of his fertile imagination, the fleeting character of a culture and the particular spirit of place. Contributing to the renewal of religious art, with major projects carried out in a number of Canadian provinces, he was also involved in the establishment of art schools in which he shared his expertise for more than 40 years, leaving behind a vibrant artistic heritage.

Photo: Daniel Jalbert