Art in your living room at low prices | dollars and cents

There’s no need to have deep pockets to line your walls with art. Art libraries located in Montreal, Quebec, and elsewhere in the province allow you to rent a canvas monthly for as little as a cafe latte. The equivalent of a dinner for two in a restaurant, you can even hang the Riopelle in your living room!

With around 3,000 works, L’Artothèque of the Montreal borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie — a non-profit organization operating since 1995 — has Quebec’s largest collection available to individuals. You can rent paintings by well-known artists like Jean Paul Riopelle (hurry up, they sell out as fast as free show tickets) or allow yourself to be seduced by the work of lesser-known Quebec or Canadian artists. Nearly 2,400 works came from donations and around 600 (consignment) were provided by artists who wanted to disseminate their work.

Before driving a nail into your wall, you must first become a member of L’Artothèque which costs $30 per year. You can then select the pieces that interest you by browsing the online catalog or – even more fun – by rummaging through the halls of the buildings on rue Saint-André. On the shelves, works carefully covered with transparent film were grouped by type of support (canvas, paper, sculpture, etc.) and by category (abstract or original art, landscapes, etc.).

Rental prices, which vary from $8 to $42 per month plus tax, are determined by the value of the work, which depends on the size of the painting, the fame of the artist and the technique used. By looking at the letters (A to G) on the packaging, you know what to expect: canvases for under $500 (A) can be rented for $8 a month, which go for $3,000 to $4,999 dollars (F) — as are two from Riopelle — $36, and over 5,000 dollars (G) — like Marcel Barbeau and Serge Lemoyne —, 42 dollars. “People often think that having art at home is inaccessible. But that is not true,” said L’Artothèque general manager Sandra El Ouerguemi.

When you rent work that is lent by an artist, the artist receives a royalty that varies between 20% and 40% of the rental price.

It is possible to hire up to six jobs at a time for a minimum period of 3 months and a maximum of 12 months. You can go it alone with the chosen piece or hire an art transportation company at your expense. For installation, you can take care of it yourself by following the advice of the house or asking for the services of a museum technician from L’Artothèque (costs vary according to the hanging to be done).

L’Artothèque insurance protects you in case of fire, flood or theft. But if you damage the canvas or your child uses it to try on their new marker, you (or your insurance company) will have to pay for its restoration. It’s therefore important to let your insurance agent know that you now have a piece of art in your home – and to ensure that this type of damage is covered.

You can also buy returnable canvases that you no longer want to part with. If you keep it for a year, you will benefit from a reduction corresponding to six months’ rent.

You can, of course, decorate your space at a lower cost by framing travel photos or buying reproductions at a Swedish furniture store… Except that nothing can replace the feeling of seeing an original, pleads Sandra El Ouerguemi. “There is something unique about choosing a piece produced by an artist and hanging it in your home. The work is not in a gallery, not in a museum, but at home. »

Another city, another treasure

Other small art libraries are found here and there in Quebec. It is from the City of Pointe-Claire, on the west of the island of Montreal, has a collection of one hundred paintings, which are updated annually after a call for submissions.

You don’t have to be a Pointe-Claire resident to rent a piece. All you have to do is show up to the Stewart Hall Cultural Center and provide ID. Registration is free and rent costs from $6 to $30 per month, depending on the value of the work. You can store it for up to four months and then buy it, if you so desire. Unsold canvases at the end of each year are returned to the artist. But be careful: it is your insurance and not Artothèque’s that should cover the costs in the event of fire, theft, flooding or damage.

“Since the inception of Pointe-Claire Artotheque in 1967, the idea has always been to offer affordable art for everyone,” explains her manager, Amanda Johnston.

As of 2020, the art library has had a youth component: approximately 40 works created by children aged 12 and under living in Pointe-Claire are offered for rent (five dollars per month) or sold annually, and any amount raised goes to charity. local youth support organization.

On the side of the Old Capital

In Quebec, the Imageothèque of Laval University, located in the Alphonse-Desjardins pavilion, offers a catalog mainly of works by well-known artists, produced while they were students there. Again, there’s no need to study or work at Laval University to take advantage of it: once you get a free user card, you can borrow a maximum of 5 works at a time out of the roughly 400 on offer, and this, for a period of four months (renewable at most twice).

Université Laval students pay $13 per job for each four-month period and the public $23, including taxes. Again, you bear all costs if you damage the rental work. On the other hand, it’s impossible to buy your favorite canvas after borrowing it.

Note that the Gabrielle-Roy library, in the Saint-Roch district, also has an art library with around 1,200 works accessible to customers (membership is free for Québec, Wendake, Boischatel, and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures residents, and it costs $124 per year for non-residents). However, it is temporarily closed due to renovations and will reopen in the fall of 2023. Currently, you can rent five pieces at a time, for four dollars each for a period of three months (renewable twice). At such a price, the patience is worth it.

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