In 2013, the Art Gallery of Ontario proudly presented a career-spanning exhibition of artist Sorel Etrog’s work, featuring his archetypal sculptures and his rarely seen film, Spiral, plus drawings, paintings, book illustrations and prints from both the Gallery’s and private collections. Born in Romania, Etrog came to Toronto in 1963 and his career here left an undeniable mark, both on our cityscape and the many people in Toronto’s art community who knew and admired him.
Below AGO CEO and director Matthew Teitelbaum reflects on Etrog’s passing:
I am truly saddened to learn that Sorel Etrog, a great Canadian artist, has passed away. We at the AGO had the privilege of working with Sorel recently on an exhibition that spanned the breadth of his impressive career, and from that opportunity came a meaningful understanding of his legacy. A sculptor, painter, draughtsman, filmmaker and writer, Sorel was one of the most multifaceted artists of his generation. Born in Romania, he arrived in Canada bearing poignant personal experiences that informed his work. His references to other traditions enriched an emerging conversation in the 1960s about contemporary art in a relatively insulated world, suggesting a connectedness that was largely unimagined at the time. This deep and ongoing search for ways to us all to connect will be visible for generations to come in Toronto, the city Sorel loved, where several public installations of his sculptures have left an indelible mark on the urban landscape and our public imagination. I considered Sorel a friend, and will miss him. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his sister, his extended family and his longtime assistant, Eva.
About Sorel Etrog
Sorel Etrog was best known for his abstracted figurative sculpture. The statue he created for the Canadian Film Award in 1968 is recognizable to many Canadians as the Genie, and his massive Sun Life on the northeast corner of King Street and University Avenue is a landmark for many Torontonians. However, his lesser-known collaborations with Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco and Marshall McLuhan convey the profoundly human – and humane – aspects of an artist whose thoughts encompass sculptural and metaphorical considerations of connection, passage, relationship and continuity.