Concordia University

Nicola Pezolet, PhD

Assistant Professor, Art History

Office: S-EV 3765 
Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex,
1515 St. Catherine W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5449
Availability: Office hours (Fall 2016):
Thursday, 12:30-2:30 PM
Friday, 11:30-12:30 PM
By appointment


  • PhD (2013) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art)
  • MA (2008) Université Laval, Québec (Histoire de l'Art)
  • BA (2005) Université Laval, Québec (Histoire de l'Art)

Research & Teaching Interests

  • History of Architecture and the Built Environment in Europe and North America (19th-20th Century)
  • Modern Art and Architecture Theory
  • Abstraction and the "Synthesis of the Arts"
  • 20th Century Catholic Architecture and Art
  • Architecture, Media and Print Culture
  • Critical Historiography and Social History

Distinctions & Awards


  • Fonds de Recherche Société et Culture du Québec, Établissement de nouveaux professeurs-chercheurs (2014-2017)
  • Concordia University Undergraduate Student Research Award (supervisor)
  • Concordia University Faculty Research and Development Program Award
  • Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellowship (Paris, 2011-2012)
  • Canadian Centre for Architecture collection research grant (Montreal, 2009)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada doctoral fellowship (Cambridge, 2007- 2011)
  • Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture doctoral scholarship (2007- 2011) (declined)
  • MIT presidential fellowship (Cambridge, 2007-2008)
  • Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture master's scholarship (2006-2007)
  • Centre Interuniversitaire d'Études sur les Lettres, les Arts et les Traditions (CELAT) travel grant (Vancouver, 2006)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada master's scholarship (Quebec/Montreal, 2005- 2006)
  • Canada Millennium scholarship (Quebec, 2005)

Professional Memberships

  • Society of Architectural Historians
  • International Society for Intellectual History
  • Universities Art Association of Canada
  • College Art Association
  • Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art

Teaching activities

Undergraduate Courses

  • ARTH 270 Icons of Architectural History
  • ARTH 283 The Life & Work of... Le Corbusier
  • ARTH 371 Studies in Canadian Architecture 
  • ARTH 374 Architecture & Urbanism in Montreal
  • ARTH 400 From the Gesamtkunstwerk to the Postwar "Synthesis of the Arts" (advanced seminar)
  • ARTH 450 Architecture and Utopia (advanced seminar)

Graduate Seminars

  • ARTH 633/2 Image Building: Art, Architecture, and Print Media
  • ARTH 633A Of Utopian Space
  • ARTH 639A The Cold War: Art, Architecture, and Global Politics (1945-1989)
  • ARTH 810A Art History and its Methodologies/Séminaire Intégrateur: Art History and the Environment (Interuniversity PhD program, w/ Dr. Christina Contandriopoulos, UQÀM)

Thesis Supervision

I am interested in research projects focused on collaborative practices between architects, artists and craftspeople in 20th century Western Europe and North America. I have a special interest in the creation of aesthetic environments and atmospheres, both secular and religious, via polychromy, mural painting, stained glass, public sculpture, etc. I am particularly interested in the occasional overlaps and confrontations between modernism and Catholic sacred art and architecture. I also welcome projects involving a study of modern architecture and print media, whether it is professional periodicals, avant-garde journals, little magazines, etc. On a methodological level, I have an active interest in socio-cultural history of art and architecture, as well as by the critical study of the historiography of modernism.

Graduate Students

MA in Art History

Stephen Damien Smith, Space, Queer Sensibility and Synthesis: The Architectural Drawings of Bruce Goff (in progress)

Emily Bergsma, “Canadian Reject”: Melvin Charney’s Design for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 70 (2017)

Gillian MacCormack, The Art of Nation-Building: Two Murals by Charles Comfort (1936-37) (2016)

Nancy Webb, In Search of the New Sensibility: Susan Sontag Writing on Art in the Sixties (2015)

PhD in Art History / Humanities

Melanie Schnidrig, Synthetic Synesthesia: Phenomenology, Immersion and Affect in Multisensorial Art (in progress)
PhD in Humanities
Primary supervisor

Rebecca Lemire, Indigenizing Modernism: Organic Modern Architecture in North America and Indigenous Design Practices (in progress)
Interuniversity PhD in Art History program
Primary supervisor

Philippe Guillaume, From Photography and Walking to Walking and Photography (in progress)
Interuniversity PhD in Art History program

Co-supervisor (with Dr. Martha Langford)

Research activities

Current Research

The Synthesis of the Arts in the Postwar Period
(funded by the FRQ-SC Etablissement de Nouveaux Professeurs-Chercheurs Grant)

My first book project, to be published by Routledge, examines the collaborative efforts of different individuals and groups - such as Le Corbusier, the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and Groupe Espace - which advocated a "synthesis of the arts" in the time period that corresponds to the Liberation until the beginning of the Fifth Republic in France. I consider a wide range of archival sources and projects, from the construction and collective decoration of permanent buildings to temporary installations in galleries by way of outdoors art exhibitions and theatrical performances, many of which were sponsored by Eugène Claudius-Petit and the newly founded French Ministère de la Reconstruction et de l'Urbanisme. I also analyze how the humanistic Reconstruction discourse was challenged by radical groups such as Cobra and the Situationist International. Case studies include Le Corbusier's Usine Claude et Duval in Saint-Dié and  Unité d'Habitation in Marseille,  Bernard Zehrfuss and Félix Del Marle's Régie Nationale Renault factory complex in Flins, Michel Ragon and Jacques Polieri's Festivals d'Art d'Avant-Garde, and Cobra and Situationists environments such as the Cavern of Anti-Matter in Paris. Although my book project is focused primarily on France, my research is nevertheless more global in its scope. In the coming years, I hope to investigate the relationship between the State and cultural politics during the Cold War, particularly in Canada and in Latin American countries where the State played a strategic role in economic and cultural affairs in order to create a "Third Way" that could supersede the contradictions of capitalist liberalism and socialist planning. I argue that collaborative, architecturally-situated projects under the banner of the modernist "synthesis of the arts" (which sometimes took on slightly different names) were generally conceived in these countries, as it was in France, as a redemptive counterpart to technocratic modernization.

Modernism, Canadian Architectural Magazines and the Roman Catholic Church, 1940­-1975
(funded by the SSHRC Insight Development Grant)

My second major research project focuses on the intersections of modernism and Christian (particularly Catholic) sacred art and architecture in postwar Canada, especially in the years leading up to Second Vatican Council and to the Canadian Centennial. I investigate how the boom in religious constructions was covered, both in terms of text and image, in the Canadian architectural press (in such publications as Canadian Architect, RAIC Journal and Architecture Bâtiment Construction), while looking at contemporary developments in other countries. Architects considered include Étienne-Joseph Gaboury, Douglas Cardinal, Roger D’Astous and Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold & Sise. My interest is focused, in particular, on the impact of liturgical and aesthetic renewal on the creation and decoration of various parish churches and monasteries throughout the country, at a time when certain members of the Catholic Church were promoting a "humanistic" social mission, ressourcement and a rethinking of Christian theology. I am also interested by the international exchanges that occurred during the war years, as many Europeans came to visit or work in Canada while in exile (well known examples include the Dominican friar Marie-Alain Couturier, editor of the journal L'Art Sacré, and the philosopher and Benedictine oblate Jacques Maritain).


Book project

(in progress) Reconstruction and the Synthesis of the Arts in Postwar France, 1944-1962 (London: Routledge, 2017).

Volumes edited

(co-editor) Thresholds 41: Revolution! (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT School of Architecture and Planning, 2013).

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • (in progress) "From Automatisme to Automation: On Jean-Paul Mousseau's 1962 Lumino-Kinetic Mural for Hydro-Québec"
  • "Art in Transnational Architecture: Paul F. Damaz’s Popularization of the Synthesis of the Arts, Between Europe and Latin America," special issue on Contemporary Latino and Latin American Art, ed. Olga U. Herrera and María C. Gaztambide, Diálogo: An Interdisciplinary Studies Journal (Center for Latino Research, DePaul University, Chicago), vol. 20, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 21-36.
  • "Etienne Gaboury, Vatican II and Catholic Liturgical Renewal in Postwar Canada," special issue Apocryphal and Apostolic Modernism: Connections between Religion and Architectural  Modernism, 1945-1970, ed. Rajesh Heynickx and Stéphane Symons, The European Legacy (Routledge), vol. 22, no. 3 (Winter 2017): 293-317.
  • “Spiritual Matter: Universal And Regional Forms In Étienne Gaboury’s Précieux-Sang Church,” special issue Kingdoms of God, Manifest: A Journal of American Architecture and Urbanism, no. 2 (December 2015): 90-101.
  • "Bauhaus Ideas: Jorn, Max Bill and Reconstruction Culture," October (The MIT Press), no. 141 (Summer 2012): 86-110.
  • "Primitivism, Humanism, and Ambivalence: Cobra and Post-Cobra," Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics (Harvard University Press), no. 59-60 (Spring/Autumn 2011): 282-302. Co-authored with Karen Kurczynski, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts (Amherst).
  • "The Cavern of Anti-Matter: Giuseppe Gallizio and the Technological Imaginary of the Early Situationist International," Grey Room (The MIT Press), no. 38 (March 2010): 62-89.
  • "Signs of Inhabitation: The Critical Legacies of Patio and Pavilion," Thresholds (MIT School of Architecture), no. 35 (Spring 2009): 44-49.

Book Chapters / Exhibition Catalogue Essays

  • "Dionysus in the Democracy: Jorn Contra Le Corbusier," in What Moves Us? Le Corbusier and Asger Jorn in Art and Architecture, ed. Ruth Baumeister (Zurich/Silkeborg: Scheidegger and Spiess/Museum Jorn, 2015), 76-81. Translated in Danish as "Dionysos i demokratiet: Jorn Contra Le Corbusier".
  • "'Le Peintre Asgaer', the Popular Front and the Synthesis of the Arts," in Expo Jorn: Art as Festival, ed. Karen Kurczynski (Silkeborg: Museum Jorn, 2014), 168-171. Translated in Danish as "'Maleren Asgaer', Folkefronten og syntesen af kunstarterne".

Online Publication

"The Village Polychrome, 1952-53," Canadian Centre for Architecture website, December 2009.

Book and Exhibition Reviews

  • "The Social Project: Housing Postwar France, by Kenny Cupers (University of Minnesota Press, 2014)," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 76, no. 1 (March 2017):
  • "The SAAL Process: Housing in Portugal, 1974–76, exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (2 May to 4 October 2015)," Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 70, no. 1 (2016): 180-181.
  • "The Allied Arts: Architecture and Craft in Postwar Canada, by Sandra Alfoldy (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2012)," RACAR, vol. 40, no. 2 (2015): 161-163.
  • "On Architecture: Melvin Charney - A Critical Anthology, ed. Louis Martin (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013)," Future Anterior, vol. 9, no. 1 (2014): 99-105.

Exhibition Organized

  • LC: Habitat/Dwellings, group exhibition in the Concordia Art History Vitrine with student from ARTH 283: The Life and Work of Le Corbusier (April-May 2015)
  • Cycle the City, group exhibition in the Concordia Art History Vitrine with students from ARTH 374: Architecture and Urbanism in Montreal (April-May 2014)

Participation activities

Conferences & Lectures


  • (forthcoming) "Secular and Sacred Light in the Work of Jean-Paul Mousseau," panel Craft and Public Art, Canadian Craft Biennial conference, Toronto/Burlington, September 16, 2017
  • (forthcoming) "St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish at 100," panel Religious Architecture in Canada, Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada conference, Niagara-on-the-Lake, May 26, 2017
  • "Le Corbusier: Architecture, Art et Politique Modernes," undergraduate course HAR 1425: L’architecture depuis les Lumières (1750-1950) (Prof. Christina Contandriopoulos), Université du Québec à Montréal, April 4, 2017
  • Panel "Utopia, Territory and Media Cultures / Utopie, Territoire et Cultures Médiatiques," Universities Art Association of Canada conference, Université du Québec à Montréal, October 27-30, 2016 (co-chair with Dr. Christina Contandriopoulos)
  • "Paul Damaz’ Transatlantic Network and the Historiography of Midcentury Modernism," Networked Art Histories, 1960s to the Present Day (in Canada and Elsewhere) conference, Concordia University, October 22, 2016
  • "Hydro-Quebec and the Cultural Legacies of the 'Quiet Revolution': On Photography and the Restoration of Jean-Paul Mousseau’s Lumière et mouvement dans la couleur (1962-2002)," panel What does Photography Preserve? Reification and Ruin in the Photographic Heritage of a Place Called Montreal, Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference, Université du Québec à Montréal, June 7-10, 2016
  • "The Spirit of the Matter: Materiality and Metamorphosis in the Early Work of Étienne Gaboury," panel Churches: Past, Present, and Future, Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada annual conference, Regina, Saskatchewan, June 1-4, 2016
  • "Le Corbusier: Architecture, Art et Politique Modernes," undergraduate course HAR 1425: L’architecture depuis les Lumières (1750-1950) (Prof. Christina Contandriopoulos), Université du Québec à Montréal, April 4, 2016
  • "The Spirit of the Matter: Materiality and Metamorphosis in the Early Work of Étienne Gaboury," conference The Sacred and the Profane, CUJAH, Concordia University, February 13, 2016
  • "Colorful Montreal: Modern Architecture, Urban Life, and the 1960s Abstract Murals of Jean-Paul Mousseau," panel Geometric Abstraction, Op, and Kinetic Art in Transnational Perspective, College Art Association annual conference, Washington DC, February 4, 2016
  • "'La Culture Humaine': Utopianism, Teleology and Synthesis in Jorn’s Theories of Art and Architecture of the 1940s," Le Corbusier: What Moves Us? conference, Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark, 19 November, 2015
  • "French Modern Architecture and Cold War Diplomacy, circa 1950," panel Reassessing the Cold War in Architecture and Planning, Society of Architectural Historians annual conference, Chicago, April 17, 2015
  • "Art et mobilier modernes à l’ère industrielle," Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, March 2, 2015
  • "Modern Art and Furniture Design in the First Machine Age," Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, March 2, 2015
  • "Edgar Pillet, Abstract Art and the Postwar Catholic Left: The Mame Factories in Tours," Forum des Professeurs, Université Laval, Québec, January 30, 2015
  • "Photography and the Documentation of Modernist Church Architecture in Canada," panel The Arc of Photographic Knowledge: From Representation to Experience, Universities Art Association of Canada, OCAD University, Toronto, October 23-26, 2014
  • "Le Corbusier et la 'synthèse des arts majeurs' comme fiction architecturale," doctoral seminar HAR 8001: La structure fictionnelle de l'œuvre architecturale (Prof. Marc Grignon), Université du Québec à Montréal, October 17, 2014
  • "Art and the Urban Environment, 1950s-1960s," undergraduate course ARTH 375: Issues in the Montreal Art Milieu (Prof. Johanne Sloan), Concordia University, September 24, 2014
  • "Modernism and Catholic Architecture, Before and After Vatican II,” panel Apocryphal and Apostolic Modernism: Forgotten Connections Between Religion and Architecture, International Society for Intellectual History annual conference, University of Toronto, June 27, 2014
  • "The Spaces of Religion and Identity," Afternoons at the Institute, Conversation with Dr. Tania Martin, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia University, February 5, 2014
  • "Art on the Assembly Line," colloquium BOOM! Growth, Form, Sustainable Bodies 1950-1967, University City London, London (UK), April 5, 2014
  • "The Postwar Territorialization of Neo-Plasticism," panel Referential Meaning in Abstraction, Universities Art Association of Canada, Banff Centre, October 19, 2013
  • "Couleur dans l'espace: art mural, abstraction, biopolitique," followed by a public conversation with Dr. Yve-Alain Bois, Dr. Jaleh Mansoor and Melanie Gilligan, International Colloquium Max et Iris Stern 7, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, October 6, 2013
  • "Polychrome Architecture: Groupe Espace and the Renault Industrial Complex in Flins," MIT, Department of Architecture, April 2013
  • "Jorn, Second Futurism and the Italian Neo-Avant-Garde," Museum Jorn, Silkeborg, Denmark, March 11, 2012
  • "Rational/Irrational Production: The Bauhaus Idea," MIT, Department of Architecture, April 17, 2011
  • "Giuseppe Gallizio et la synthèse des arts: entre utopie technologique et nostalgie préhistorique," Colloquium Les Apories de l'Art Total, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, Paris, France, December 15-17, 2011
  • "Modernist Polychromy in France," MIT, Department of Architecture, March 10, 2009
  • Research in Progress 2009, MIT, School of Architecture and Planning, March 13-14, 2009 (organizing committee member)
  • "Primitives of a New Sensibility: Futurism, Popular Art and the European Neo-Avant- Garde," International symposium Futurism at 100: To Measure a Century, Harvard University, April 16-17 2009
  • "Design, Education and Nueva Vision: On Tomás Maldonado, Max Bill and the 'Bauhaus idea' at Mid-Century," Annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association, Harvard University, March 29, 2009
  • "Hopes in Design: Tomás Maldonado's 'Scientific Operationalism' and the Architectural Culture of the Postwar Years," Study Centre lecture series, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, July 24, 2009
  • "The Cavern of Anti-Matter: The Techno-Primitivist Imaginary of the Situationist International, circa 1959," Universities Art Association of Canada, University of Alberta, October 23, 2009
  • "Signs of Inhabitation: Patio and Pavilion, London, 1956," Graduate colloquium Research in Progress, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, April 5, 2008
  • "Surrealism and Situationism's Cartographic Practices," Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, April 15, 2008
  • "Partez sur les Routes: Situationist Nomadism and the Anxious Legacies of Surrealism," Symposium Anxious Mobilities, Yale School of Architecture, April 12, 2008
  • "Le nomadisme et son rôle critique dans les publications architecturales d'après-guerre," International conference Bohemia Without Borders: The Production and Internationalization of a Literary Attitude, University of Toronto, 12 December, 2008
  • "Guy Debord and the Art of Cartography," Stanford University, French Department, November 13, 2007

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