Brief history

Although Canadian art professionals, as Agnes Lefort and John Lyman, have expressed interest in AICA (International Association of Art Critics) since its founding congress in Paris in 1948, it was not until 1955 that a Canadian section of this important worldwide association was officially established in Canada under the name of AICA – Canada (International Association of Canadian art critics). At this point, the association barely brings together ten Canadian professionals engaged in the diffusion and promotion of non-commercial modern and contemporary art in Canada. Mostly English, they act as art critics, curators, journalists and art writers in newspapers and as a university teacher. Included among its founders several art historians and managers: Donald D. Buchanan, curator and deputy director of the National Gallery of Canada, Martin Baldwin, Director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, John EH Steegman, director of the Montreal Museum of fine arts, who became its first president. Also among them, Thomas R. MacDonald, director of the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Colin D. Graham, curator of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC. Several Canadian art critics are also leading the list of founders of AICA-Canada, including Rodolphe de Repentigny (Jauran), La Presse and theorist of the first group of Plastic and Robert Ayer of the Montreal Gazette and Paul Duval, the Toronto Telegram.

AICA-Canada creation was the result of six years of diplomatic relations, negotiations and exchanges of officials, and personal correspondence with members of the European and American sections who founded AICA in 1948 in Paris under the aegis of Unesco. If Martin Baldwin, at the invitation of James Johnson Sweeney, director of the Guggenheim Museum of New York and president of AICA USA, favored the combination of small group of Canadian art critics AICA USA which would form a single section, Donald W. Buchanan and John EH Steegman, them insisted to immediately create a completely autonomous Canadian national section directly under international directorate. This solution received the support of the International Executive Board and was chosen by the majority of Canadian art critics gathered for the AICA-Canada Foundation.

Subsequently, some important personalities of the modern Canadian cultural history have marked the destiny OF AICA-Canada and joined the original group. This is the case of Guy Viau, who was an art critic in Montreal et Toronto press and radio before becoming curator at the Musée du Québec, the National Gallery of Canada and the first director of the Center Canadian cultural Paris. Similarly, Andrée Paradis, founding director of the first large French Canadian Art magazine Vie des Arts has played a leading role within AICA, both nationally and internationally. We can also mention the involvement of the art critic and film René Rozon, founder and director of the International Festival of Films on Art of Montreal was AICA-Canada vice-president twice and who is still a member.

AICA-Canada has consistently regroup professionals art critics from several parts of the country and is involved in various ways on the Canadian art scene. It has also facilitate exchange between prominent art professionals and members of the next generation, facilitating the intergenerational passage of values that drive us. Among the former members of AICA-Canada that have marked the history of art criticism in Canada, we note the names of the semiotician philosopher, Fernande Saint-Martin, the art critic and curator, Chantal Pontbriand, curator at the National Gallery of Canada, Jean-René Ostiguy and those of Anne Brodzky, editor of Arts Canada magazine and Kay Kritzwizer the Globe and Mail.

AICA-Canada was the host organizer of two international AICA Congress in 1968 under the chairmanship of Laurent Lamy and in the vice-presidency of Guy Viau, and in 1990, under the chairmanship of Virgil Hammock. Established in Montreal, the latter carried congress in Ottawa and Toronto, after a detour of cultural visits to Quebec and Baie St. Paul Symposium.

Related links :

Les archives de la critique d’art : http://www.archivesdelacritiquedart.org/

AICA International : http://aicainternational.org/en/background-objectives-of-aica/

Article about the international congress : https://www.erudit.org/culture/espace1041666/espace1046482/9846ac.pdf