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Villeneuve, Arthur, (Town On A River)


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 "Town On A River" by Arthur Villeneuve

16x20" acrylic on board, 1982 --framed


Arthur Villeneuve was born on January 4th, 1910 in Chicoutimi (now Saguenay). A down-to-earth soul residing in a middle-class neighborhood in his home town, at first glance, he may not seem particularly special. He had little education and worked as a barber and certainly didn't seem destined to become well-known outside of his immediate surroundings, much less renowned in the wider world.

Arthur Villeneuve's fate took an unexpected turn in April of 1957, when, after having had a mystical experience in which he receiving a sort of calling, he began covering the walls of his home with paintings and frescoes done in oil-based paint. The exterior of his home soon suffered the same fate. Villeneuve worked up to 100 hours every week on the project. Then, in 1959, when his house was finally painted from top to bottom in a most original fashion, he opened it to the public. Through his artwork, which is filled with both realistic depictions, as well as strange, often surprising figures, both human and animal, visitors were given a glimpse into the artist's soul.

His work was shown in Montreal's Waddington Gallery in 1963 and was featured in prestigious exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec [Quebec National Museum of Fine Arts]. Exhibitions of his pieces were held at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1972 and at the Sir Wilfrid-Laurier Museum in 1990. In 1976, he illustrated a special deluxe edition of Quebec author Jacques Godbout's novel Salut Galarneau! Arthur Villeneuve passed away in Chicoutimi on May 24th, 1990. Shortly after his death, his home was recognized as a Quebec cultural heritage asset. After many discussions on the subject, the house was moved in 1994 to the Chicoutimi pulp mill, where an eponymous museum was opened in 2002. From that moment on, Arthur-Villeneuve House became an important museum exhibit item.