Robert LAPALME 1908-1997

1992 Cultural Cultural

He is one of those people who believe that if you can't laugh about something, then it can't be very serious. During the nineteen fifties, Robert LaPalme used his caricatures to challenge the political morals and general ideas of that time. Members of the Duplessis government, and especially the Premier himself, were often the targets of his biting humour inspired by considerations of social justice.

Mr. LaPalme is a self-taught artist. The École des beaux-arts de Montréal refused to admit him as a student in 1925 because they felt the young man had very little talent! He is imbued with a fiercely independent spirit, and attracted public attention in the early thirties with his first sketches. They were drawn in a cubic-geometric style which was considered revolutionary at the time.

From 1940 to 1960, he was the dominant Canadian caricaturist, and was one of very few Canadians to gain international fame in this area. Most major Canadian newspapers published his work during that period. His first caricatures appeared in 1934 in L'Ordre, a newspaper under the direction of Olivar Asselin. From 1935 to 1937, he worked in New York, and his drawings appeared in The Nation, in Chicago's Ringmaster, and in The Philadelphia Ledger. Upon his return to Canada, he worked for Le Droit in Ottawa, Le Journal de Québec, L'Action catholique, La Patrie and Le Nouveau Journal. Le Devoir started running his caricatures on its editorial page in 1950.

In 1960, Mr. LaPalme steadily reduced his output of caricatures in order to devote more time to the organization of international events. In 1963, he was instrumental in the creation of the International Salon of Caricature, an event that would continue for a quarter of a century and feature artists from more than 60 countries. These venues provided an ideal opportunity for Quebec's best young artists to show what they could do.

Mr. LaPalme, who was born in Montréal in 1908, has won countless prestigious awards during his career, including the First Prize at the Tokyo International Poster Competition, the most important salon of its kind in the world, in 1965; a diploma from the National Cartoonist of New York and the Palma d'Oro from the Salone Internazionale dell'Umorismo di Bordighera in Italy, in 1972. In 1952, he won the National Newspaper Award for the Best Caricature of the Year.

He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Royal Academy of Canada and of the Ordre national du Québec. Lovers of caricature have had the opportunity to admire exhibitions of his work in galleries throughout the world, including New York (1945), Brazil (1947), Rome (1949) and Paris (1950). He also created the large tapestry in the LaPalme Bar in Place des Arts.