After Geometry: The Abstract Art of Claude Tousignant


179 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55022-245-7
DDC 759.11





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, Japan Foundation Fellow 1991-92, and the author of
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home and As Though Life Mattered:
Leo Kennedy’s Story.


The work of painter and sculptor Claude Tousignant, one of Canada’s
most prominent abstract artists, is difficult to approach. Its
presentation in book form is perhaps even more intractable, as his
stark, often one-color paintings and geometric forms are better seen in
their original size, texture, and setting.

With a pleasing format and a substantial text, James Campbell attempts
to overcome these difficulties. Author of some 50 catalogues and books
on international art, Campbell is also a specialist in abstract art in
Canada. He offers biographical and critical insights into Tousignant’s
art and the tradition in which he works, one perhaps best known through
the American artist Barnett Newman. Newman’s remark “In a world of
geometry, geometry itself has become our moral crisis” stands as
epigraph to the study.

Campbell analyzes the principles of Tousignant’s art, dealing with
themes and aspirations from his early representational paintings to his
current large monochromes. The thrust of Campbell’s work is critical,
not biographical. He deals at length with Tousignant’s devotion to
geometrical principles over some 30 years, and to the implications of
abstract art. His conclusion, “The Anatomy of a Painter’s Doubt,”
is perhaps his most intriguing assessment of this abstract artist, who
appeals, Campbell believes, to “our deepest love of pure chroma.”

After Geometry includes 85 color plates, and a substantial analysis of
the principles of abstract art.


Campbell, James D., “After Geometry: The Abstract Art of Claude Tousignant,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,