The title “Refus global” is handwritten vertically in red ink on the title page of a book pamphlet. It is visible between the half-open flaps of the cardboard cover, which are decorated with non-figurative motifs in black and white.

Jean Paul Riopelle

(Montréal 1923 – Isle-aux-Grues, Quebec, 2002)

Pierre Gauvreau

(Montréal 1922 – Montréal 2011)


Cover of Refus global 

[Total Refusal]


Ink on paper
21.5 x 18.5 cm
Paul-Émile Borduas (Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, 1905 – Paris 1960) and other signers, Refus global, Saint-Hilaire, Éditions Mithra-Mythe, 1948
Collection of Françoise Sullivan
© Estates of Jean Paul Riopelle and Pierre Gauvreau / SODRAC (2018)
Photo: Galerie de l’UQAM

The manifesto Refus global [Total Refusal] was published in 1948 by Mithra-Mythe, a company established for that purpose by one of the signers, Maurice Perron. In addition to the famous polemical essay and two other texts by Paul-Émile Borduas, the pamphlet included contributions by several of the cosigners: writings by Bruno Cormier, Françoise Sullivan and Fernand Leduc, poetic plays by Claude Gauvreau, photographs by Maurice Perron and reproductions of artworks. Pierre Gauvreau, Jean Paul Riopelle and Claude Gauvreau collaborated on the cover, which featured flaps that reveal the title page and a closure band. Pierre Gauvreau typed and then mimeographed the 400 copies on a Gestetner duplicator belonging to his mother, Julienne Saint-Mars Gauvreau (1895-1960).

The manifesto Refus global [Total Refusal] was launched on August 9, 1948, at Librairie Tranquille, in Montréal. The names of the signers as they appear in the pamphlet are: Paul-Émile BORDUAS (1905-1960), Magdeleine ARBOUR (1923), Marcel BARBEAU (1925-2016), Bruno CORMIER (1919-1991), Claude GAUVREAU (1925-1971), Pierre GAUVREAU (1922-2011), Muriel GUILBAULT (1922-1952), Marcelle FERRON-HAMELIN (1924-2001), Fernand LEDUC (1916-2014), Thérèse LEDUC (1927-2005), Jean-Paul MOUSSEAU (1927-1991), Maurice PERRON (1924-1999), Louise RENAUD (1922), Françoise RIOPELLE (1927), Jean-Paul RIOPELLE (1923-2002) and Françoise SULLIVAN (1923).

There exist several copies of the manifesto Refus global (Total Refusal), including one held in the special collections at Bibliothèque des arts de l'UQAM.


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