Founded 40 years ago by Sonia Denault and Robert Tremblay, Galerie Michel-Ange has announced that it will be closing its showroom at 430 Bonsecours Street in Old Montreal on July 31.
The art gallery opened in 1984 on the ground floor of the building that once housed Stanley Cosgrove’s studio with an exhibition dedicated to Marc-Aurèle Fortin – a retrospective bringing together some forty of his works.
During the early years, Sonia Denault and Robert Tremblay specialized in figurative art – René Richard, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Jean Dallaire, the Group of Seven, etc. – before turning to abstract art.
“When we started, there were no other galleries in Old Montreal,” says Sonia Denault. We were discouraged, we were told: you are going to close your doors, there is no gallery that could continue here, you are not going to survive…”
And yet. Not only has the gallery survived, but it has earned an enviable reputation in the arts community, in particular thanks to the exhibition of works by artists from the Automatiste movement and the signatories of Refus global.
In recent years, contemporary artists have been added to the portfolio of the Old Montreal gallery.
If the owner couple decided to sell, it is because they have reached this age… “My husband Robert is 82 years old, says Sonia Denault, he no longer takes care of the gallery. And I am 75 years old… We have two sons, but they are not interested in taking over and working six days a week. »
The premises have been sold to Encan Champagne – an auction house run by Claude Champagne – but Sonia Denault intends to continue her representation work with two or three artists and plans to work with Ninon Gauthier – widow of Marcel Barbeau – at the Artist’s Foundation.
Ms. Denault, who has fond memories of Michelangelo, remembers the exhibition of the trio Gauvreau, Leduc and Barbeau, in 2011.
“Charles Binamé [the filmmaker], who was a friend of Pierre Gauvreau, asked me to open the gallery before the vernissage, because he feared for his health… Finally, Gauvreau was there at the vernissage, then all the endings week later. And three weeks later he passed away. It was touching, because he knew he was going to leave and he was saying goodbye to his friends…”
Sonia Denault admits that life has been good for Michelangelo. With many business clients like Power Corporation, Bombardier or the Royal Bank – to name a few – the gallery has done well. But what has hurt it, she insists, is are the many works carried out in rue Bonsecours…
“No streets, no sidewalks, there was absolutely nothing, and it went on for a very long time,” she tells us. Once finished, there were broken pipes, then work on the Papineau house, which is in the process of being transformed into a museum, and soon, there will be the work of Phi Contemporain… So it didn’t have always been easy on that side. »
The Michelangelo Gallery has attracted many quality artists to Old Montreal, which is now full of commercial galleries. “There have also been a lot of launches. At the time, Claude Gauvreau, Pierre’s brother, launched his coins here. More recently, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette has also launched her novels. »
The closing sale of the gallery will take place from July 20 to 23. Unsold paintings will be auctioned. Michel-Ange will close its doors permanently on July 31 before handing over the keys to Claude Champagne.