Charles Gagnon

Canadian (1934 - 2003)

Charles Gagnon was a Canadian painter.
Based on records, Charles Gagnon's estimated art value is C$80,000 (*)

Charles Gagnon's work could be available for sale at public auction with prices in the range of C$50,000 - C$250,000, or even much higher.

From records, the highest price paid at auction for an oil painting work attributed to Charles Gagnon (1934-2003) was C$105,300 - paid for "Intersection" at Heffel in Vancouver on Thu, Nov 26, 2009. has 35 auction art sale records for their oil painting results, with prices in the range of C$50,000 to C$250,000.

Heffel Auction House Biography and Notes

Charles Gagnon was one of the most highly respected and, especially through his teaching, influential Canadian artists of that powerful generation born in Quebec in the 1930s. Revered for his lyrical abstract paintings, but also for his broad expertise in photography, assemblage and film, Gagnon and his work remain unique. In 2002 his achievement was recognized by a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. Crown is a highly significant painting historically and visually. Completed in New York City in early 1960 just before he moved back to Montreal, it represents Gagnon's extraordinary tutelage in what had by then become the centre of the art world. Choosing New York over Paris for his art and cultural education was unusual for an artist from Montreal at that time. To stay for a full five years, from 1955 to 1960, and to imbibe so much of the dynamism of the moment, was remarkable. It was in spring of 1960 that Gagnon returned to Montreal, after which his painting dramatically changed. Crown is the last painting from this New York period. He had taken in the range of experimental work in New York - dance, film, photography and, of course, Abstract Expressionism in painting - and returned to disseminate this legacy. As he stated in an interview, "There was a revolution going on, and it wasn't just about painting and sculpture, but as much about filmmaking, dance, photography, music." Where lesser artists' work would come to resemble its inspirations - whether from Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Hofmann or Sam Francis, to cite only three influences on Gagnon - such models made Gagnon's painting more itself. Crown exudes this individuality. We can understand the potent delicacy of Gagnon's manner by thinking of this painting as calligraphic. On the one hand, it is robust in its choice of earth tones and in its heavily marked surface. The movements of Gagnon's hand are evident: sometimes assertive, as in the dominating beige and white strokes that claim the upper plane of the picture, but also fragile, as in the thinner, quicker skeins of black pigment that seem to move with the arm and our eye from left to right across the upper left of the central motif. The whole is both discursive in the sense of structured, and also free. Crown is mysterious. Its central form is perhaps on the verge of coalescing into a legible object in front of our eyes. Notable too, is that it does not quite float away from the earthy ground. Anchored by two leg-like elements at the bottom, the motif nonetheless remains buoyant. Crown is both serious and light, a challenging and gratifying balance to find in any painting. How should we understand this subtle harmony? As Gagnon discovered, New York was a crossroads for Eastern as well as American and European culture in the later 1950s. He has recorded his interest in Zen Buddhism at this time, specifically his fascination for the notion of the full yet also empty "void". The grey and cream rectangle that centres this composition is churning with activity. Its protean energy is like that of the universe itself, replete yet never still. We thank Mark Cheetham, Professor of Art History at the University of Toronto, for contributing the above essay.

(*) Value is calculated as an average of the top oil painting sale records from database.
This information is not intended to substitute professional advice.
To estimate the value of a specific artwork created by Charles Gagnon, follow some of the advice from our Valuating art page, or contact an art specialist if our automated estimate value is greater than C$2,500.