Ulysse Comtois

Ulysse COMTOIS (1931-1999)

Oil on canvas, 1959
35.5 x 40.6 cm, 14 x 16 in.

• Private Collection, Ottawa.
• L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Montréal, Nov. 23, 1959, Montréal
• “Intense activité artistique à L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts”, Françoise de Repentigny, Le Devoir, Nov. 21, 1959, p. 9.



Ulysse Comtois was born in Granby, Quebec, 1931. Died in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, 1999. Painter and Sculptor. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 1949-50. He produced non-figurative paintings and was associated with the Automatistes around 1950. Some of his work consisted of colour bars over a background of bright colours. One such work done in 1956 was acquired from artist Henriette Fauteaux-Masse by the NGC for its collection. Later Comtois joined a group of artists who exhibited under the name Non-figurative Art Association of Montreal, an alliance of Plasticiens and Automatistes. Around 1960 he married artist Rita Letendre. By the 1960’s he was creating novel sculptural pieces first in wood then in metal. The National Gallery of Canada acquired three of these, two in wood and one made from 70 aluminum plates fitted over a steel rod w/base entitled Column (1967-68). Each of the plates can be swung through a full circle separate from the other to make different shapes out of the whole piece. In this period he also produced a relief mural for the entrance of the Expo ’67 Administration & News Building. His impressive sculptural pieces attracted favourable attention of critics. One of his moveable sculptures, acquired by the MMFA, was noted by Lawrence Sabbath as follows, “Ulysse Comtois should have his name writ large in the history books of art, for he is one who believes that art need not be sacred, that it can be a source of fun without any loss of respect for artist or object. As an example of 20th-century art that need not frighten off the onlooker and which indeed encourages him to re-design it in novel ways, . . .”