McMichael - Canadian Art | Collection d'art Canadien

A Tribute to Sorel Etrog, 1920 - 2013

Sorel Etrog (1933-2014), PietoThe McMichael Canadian Art Collection wishes to acknowledge with sadness the recent passing of Toronto based-artist and master sculptor, Sorel Etrog (August 29, 1933 – February 26, 2014).

Born in Jassy, in the planes of Moldavia in 1933, Etrog moved to Israel in the early 1950s where he studied at the Tel Aviv Art Institute and discovered his passion for sculpting. Etrog’s first solo exhibition in Tel Aviv in 1958 signalled the arrival of a talented young artist and earned him a scholarship at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York where he discovered the gallery’s Micro-asiatic, African, Pre-Columbian, Cycladic, and Etruscan collections of “primitive” art.

His introduction to Canada was initiated by renowned art collector Samuel J. Zacks, who invited Etrog to his summer home in Southampton, Ontario. In 1959, Etrog had his first solo exhibition in Canada at Gallery Moos and relocated from New York to Toronto in 1961. He quickly established a reputation in his new home country as an intense, dynamic sculptor, and in 1966, he was chosen as one of three artists to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale, along with Alex Colville and Yves Gaucher.

Throughout his career, Etrog received many important public commissions, including those for Expo 67 in Montreal, the Sun Life Centre in Toronto, and Olympic Park in Seoul, Korea. Since the late 1950s, his work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions both in Canada and internationally.

Etrog’s work is included in the permanent collections of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, (MOMA), New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the University of California, Los Angeles; the Kunstmuseum, Basel; the Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Holland; the Musee d’Arte Moderne, Paris; the Museo Internazionale d’Arte Contemporano, Florence; the Tate Gallery, London, and many others.

One sculpture and four drawings by Etrog were featured in the 2012 exhibition, The Tree: Form and Substance, part of The McMichael Tree Project which celebrated the artistic, cultural, and natural aspects of the tree through exhibitions, programs, and special installation. Recently, the McMichael was fortunate to acquire sixty-six works by Etrog, including ten sculptures and fifty-six works on paper.

Etrog, who in 1968 designed the statuette for the Canadian Film Awards—renamed the “Genie Awards” in 1980—has made a lasting impression on the history of art in Canada and maintains a strong visual presence though his iconic public sculptures.

Image: Sorel Etrog (1933-2014), Pieton, 1976, patinated bronze, Gift of the artist, Sorel Etrog, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 2011.4.9

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