Project 365 – Day 234: The First International Sculpture Symposium of North America – 48 years on
August 21 2012
48 years ago, between June 23 and August 15 1964, Montréal hosted the first International Sculpture Symposium of North America. The symposium organizers invited 12 sculptors from 9 countries to sculpt a monumental work within a specific time of 26 days, in a single location under no technical restrictions. The art works produced during the symposium are still on display except one piece by Robert Roussil from Québec that was dismantled in 1986 due to the 12 meter high metal structure becoming too dangerous.
Despite the missing Roussil piece, the other 11 sculptures add a nice focus of interest to the open space between Smith house and Lac aux Castors.
I have posted an image of one of the sculptures in a previous post in March, but as i said in that post I planned to return in the summer – so today I embarked on a mission to photograph each of the sculptures. Before I began, I called in to the Smith House to purchase a guide on the sculptures which is where much of the information on the artists below was discovered – 2$ saved a me lot of Google time.
L’Ange de Pierre by Pierre Székely (Hungary)
Székely (1923-2001) sculpted the 4.26 meter high piece out of marble from the Ottawa Valley
Optimax by Eloul Kosso (Israel)
Kosso (1920-1996) had originally wanted to name his 2.94meter tall limestone and concrete sculpture Parti pris or Separatisme but was dissuaded by the symposium organizers. At it’s inauguration the triangle supporting the mass of rock was painted scarlet.
Untitled by Krishna Reddy (India)
Reddy (born 1925) chose Portuguese marble for his intricate 3.32 meter high piece. Due to the high proportion of lime contained in Portuguese marble the artist found it difficult to work with and required the help of a second assistant (each artist was allowed 1 assistant) in order to finish in the allowed time.
Untitled by Shirley Witebsky (United States)
Witebsky (1925-1966) was the wife of Reddy and was accompanying him to Montreal for the symposium. Due to the absence of a representative from the United States and being a sculptor herself, she was invited to take part in the symposium – so much for a free travel ticket 😉 Like her husband she decided to work with Portuguese marble and due to the difficult material kept her sculpture to a relatively small 1.82 meters.
Untitled by Joseph Pillhofer (Austria)
Although Pillhofer’s (1921-2010) first choice of material was marble he decided to go instead with Limestone so that he could start work on his 3.35 meter tall sculpture as soon as possible.
Les Soeurs Cardinales by Geracimo Sklavos (Greece)
Sklavos (1927-1967) decided to use marble for his piece and was unfortunate with the first block he worked on which was found to be defective. The second block he selected was without defect and he was able to complete the 3.73 meter high creation. Unfortunately the artist suffered from depression during the symposium and committed suicide during another symposium just 3 years later.
Untitled by Augustin Cardenas (Cuba)
Cardenas (1927-2001) selected limestone as the material for his 3.35 meter high creation.
Untitled by Irving Burman (Canada)
This was Burman’s (1927) first stone sculpture. The Toronto artist had planned to do a piece in wood from a model he designed 2 years prior to the symposium. Because it wasn’t possible to get the wood in time, he decided instead to work with Limestone for his 2.13meter high creation. Burman wanted to work alone and selected a site that is a little displaced from the other works.
La Force by Armand Vaillancourt (Canada)
After several failed attempts, Québec artist Vaillancourt (1929) decided to create his sculpture in styrofoam using a blowtorch and have the metal cast at a foundry in Montmagny. The sculpture required 37 tons of metal and took 3 days to cool. La Force is one of Vaillancourt’s key works and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Québec sculpture.
I discovered that Vaillancourt will be doing a guided tour on Mount Royal at the end of September and I’ll try to make a reservation.
This piece was the most difficult to photograph due to it blending in to the background, hence I over exposed the background in post on the second image – probably better (and easier) to photograph this one in winter 🙂 Or alternatively I should have considered shooting infrared 😦
Untitled by Sergio Signori (Italy)
Signori (1906-1988) was the oldest artist invited to the symposium. He normally polished his sculptures but ran out of time to finish his symposium piece. In fact he only managed to work on 2 sides of the 2.74 meter high piece of Canadian marble.
Le Carrousel Sauvage by Louis Chavignier (France)
If you don’t drive to the park, Le Carrouselle Sauvage by Chavignier (1922-1972) is easy to miss being located next to the car park behind a wooded area. The site though was selected specifically by the artist to be away from the others and to be integrated into its environment. The five vertical stones standing in a circle are topped with 2 flat stones. The stone used is dark grey limestone from a quarry at Saint-Marc-de-Portneuf. 12 other stones surround the main structure which gives the impression of an historic ruin.
I did try an infrared shot but given the long exposure times and that it was windy the trees are a bit blurred. Anyway thought I would share one image here, although I only converted to black and white.
On a last note….it was discovered that Lac aux Castors (Beaver Lake) was losing nearly as much water as it contained each day and so the decision was taken last month to drain the man made lake and commence a complete renovation of the bottom and side walls. This is the first time since it was built in 1938 that it has been necessary to make such repairs and it’s planned to be reopen late 2013. Cost of renovation is pegged at $8.3 million. A sad temporary loss, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.
I did read that thousands of gold fish had to be euthanized. Apparently they were introduced to the lake over the years by people dumping their unwanted pet fish – and apparently gold fish are the rabbits of the water world ;-). Quebec’s Natural Resources and Wildlife Department didn’t want to transfer them to another body of water due to the threat they would pose for indigenous species. The ducks however had a luckier escape and have been relocated.
To view images in gallery format, simply click on one of the images below.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.