(b. Vienna 1924)
Maquette pour le Monument au prisonnier politique inconnu
[Model for the Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner]
Metal, wood pulp and wood
52 x 22.2 x 20 cm
Gift of Ethel Achtman, 1992
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec collection, 1992.137
© Anne Kahane. Photo: MNBAQ, Jean-Guy Kérouac
This model for a Monument au prisonnier politique inconnu [Monument to the Unknown Political Prisoner] was Anne Kahane’s entry for the international sculpture competition organized in 1953 by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. The figure’s slumped posture and the visual vocabulary suggest confinement and torture. Made of bronze-painted copper tubing, the human figure bristles with spikes that recall barbed wire. The monument project fell through for lack of agreement on where to install it. However, this model marked a significant break with the realistic sculpture that predominated in Canada at that time.
A pioneer of modern sculpture in Quebec, Anne Kahane was the first woman to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale, in 1958. After studying in New York, she returned to Montréal in the early 1950s and began exploring the human figure using a variety of innovative techniques. The post-war period was a time of transition for Quebec sculpture, as artists gradually shifted away from academic realism and figurative representation toward a more abstract approach. Kahane’s contribution to this evolution of the medium is indisputable.