Art of the Month (July 2017)

Sorel Etrog, "Dream Chamber", 1976, ed. 1/5, bronze casting, 150 x 60 x 60 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of the artist, 1999. Photo: National Capital Commission (NCC)

Sorel Etrog (Canadian, b. Romania, 1933-2014)
Dream Chamber, 1976
Bronze, ed. 1/5
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of the Artist, 1999

Sorel Etrog is one of Canada’s pre-eminent artists, a sculptor with an international reputation. Born in Romania, Etrog—who was Jewish—survived World War II and later immigrated with his family to Israel in 1950, where he continued his studies in art. In 1958, soon after arriving in Tel Aviv, Etrog attained a scholarship from the Brooklyn Museum and relocated to New York City. After a successful show at Toronto’s Gallery Moos, and a burgeoning relationship with patrons Samuel and Ayala Zacks, Etrog moved to Toronto in 1963. In 1966, Etrog represented Canada at the Venice Biennale alongside Alex Colville and Yves Gaucher.

Etrog had a particular sensitivity for publicly sited works. Dream Chamber (1976) is one of the most significant pieces of this kind in his oeuvre. Utilizing Etrog’s hinge iconography, the work is distinctly figurative, suggestive of an interlocked skull. Dream Chamber speaks to the power of imagination, and the belief that ideas can foster a transformative opening of the mind, championing human potential. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had the work installed at the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive in 1982. It has remained there since, with the MacLaren taking over the administration of the long-term loan after the artist donated Dream Chamber to the Gallery in 1999. The MacLaren is delighted to bring this work home to share it with the Barrie public at the busy intersection of Mulcaster and Collier. Dream Chamber will preside over the façade of the historic Carnegie Library (1917), a fitting tribute to a visual artist known for his collaborations with authors, including Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco.

Sorel Etrog was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994, and in 1996 was made a Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the Government of France. His work is represented in many significant public collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the National Gallery, Ottawa; the Guggenheim, New York City; the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Tate Museum, London; the Musée National d’Art Modern, Paris; and the Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv. His public works can be seen in cities across North America, including Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Montreal, Los Angeles and others.

Image caption: Sorel Etrog, "Dream Chamber", 1976, bronze casting, edition 1/5. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of the artist, 1999