Hidden sculpture on Mackay & Maisonneuve?
We’re all familiar with the magnificently mesmerizing sculpture outside of the Hall building. If you haven’t stopped to stare at it while it’s moving, I really recommend that you do. But that isn’t what this is about.
On the opposite corner, on Mackay St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd., nestled between the construction and M4 Burrito, is another sculpture, one that I didn’t really know existed until I read the sign covering it, protecting it from the adjacent construction. Although this sculpture doesn’t move, it is home to a clock!
Commissioned by the Bank of Montreal in 1966 to “beautify an air vent” connected to the metro, Claude Théberge’s untitled sculpture completely blends into the environment, even when it isn’t hidden for its own protection.
Théberge also has similar mural-sculptures at De l’Église metro and Viger Square, as well as several other 2D works around the city. All three pieces are made from concrete, which was poured into styrofoam moulds to determine their shape. The slabs are carved with funky geometric designs reminiscent of cubist paintings.
This untitled wall was likely only erected to decorate the surrounding area, which is filled with people bustling to and from the university’s buildings, hardly noticing its presence.
Concordia is home to many such artworks from local artists and alumni, faculty and staff. Among these are Geneviève Cadieux’s metallic leaves on the exterior of JMSB, Holly King’s chromatic print in the tunnel to the EV building from the metro entrance, which is commonly mistaken for a painting, and the bronze busts in the Hall building’s ground floor.
According to Art Public Montréal, public art is intended to be discrete, “affirming their formal, conceptual or temporal characteristics,” and can be found permanently installed outdoors and indoors in common areas, typically in relation to or in contrast with the surrounding environment.
While public art does play a role in decorating the city, and our campus, what’s the point of art that blends in? What then, differentiates public art from good architectural and urban design?