In 1939, Pierre Gauvreau began studying at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, where he met Françoise Sullivan and Fernand Leduc. Two years later, his modernist-style paintings caught the attention of Paul-Émile Borduas, who invited the young artist to attend the meetings he was organizing with other iconoclastic artists who were at odds with academicism. In 1946, Gauvreau participated in the first exhibition of the soon-to-be-formed Automatistes group on Amherst Street, and he later joined the other signatories of the Refus global manifesto in 1948. During the 1950s, he pursued his career as a painter, always within the Automatiste movement; his works were in several exhibitions in Montreal, including Espace 55 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1955). In the 1960s, he began writing and directing films and television shows before eventually returning to painting in 1975. Gauvreau won the Grand Prize of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television in 1990, and the Prix Louis-Philippe-Hébert in 1995. In 2014, the Musée de la civilization de Québec presented a retrospective of his work.