Space Plough II, 1990-98
Painted steel, 245 x 516 x 160 centimetres
Space Plough II provides another representation of Sorel Etrog's famous fascination with the industrial themes of the twentieth century. The piece asks us to reconsider its subject. It asks the viewer to try and bring machinery into the museum, to see that even the most utilitarian objects of our creation can possess artistic and expressive elements.
Space Plough II has a strong but simple steel construction with a basic triangular shape, and it is painted in that recognizable cautionary orange of heavy-duty industrial machinery. Etrog's trademark central hinge is also prominently featured. At first glance, the piece might look like something left behind by a road crew. A viewer might wonder, Is this just a plough? This is a justified first impression. But, Etrog makes us reconsider and ask a different set of questions with a different sort of emphasis: Is this just a plough? Or, Can a plough be art? These tools we have made and used to such great practical success - do they speak for us? Is this our art?
About Sorel Etrog
Arguably the most critically celebrated Canadian sculptor alive today, Etrog's impressive and multi-faceted career has spanned more than 40 years. In that time he has been prolific as a sculptor, a painter, an illustrator, a poet and a filmmaker.
His work has been displayed at major international galleries around the world from Israel to Singapore, from India to Switzerland. In North America, his position is secure in many of the most prestigious private and public collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, as well as the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
For decades, Etrog's sculpture has played an important role in the development of the Canadian arts. In 1988, he was commissioned to represent Canada with a sculpture for the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. In 1994, the Government of Canada donated the sculpture Sunbird to Normandy, France, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation by Canadian forces. In 1967, Etrog was commissioned by Expo in Montreal to create two large sculptures for the World's Fair, and in 1968, he was asked to create the small statuettes that would serve as the Canadian Film Awards. Though these awards are now more famously known as "The Genies," they were originally called "Etrogs."
Throughout his career, Etrog has been closely associated with many of the twentieth century's greatest thinkers and artists. He has collaborated with distinguished international literary figures Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco and also maintained a close working relationship with Canada's famed communication theorist Marshall McLuhan. Etrog was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995 and was appointed Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the Government of France in 1996.