(Montréal 1935 – Montréal 2012)
(b. Budapest 1928)
Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke
[The Houses of Sherbrooke Street]
Gelatin silver print
35.4 x 27.9 cm
Gift of Melvin Charney, 2007
Melvin Charney Fonds, The Canadian Centre for Architecture, DR2007:0086:003:008
© Estate of Melvin Charney / SODRAC (2018)
© Gabor Szilasi
Les maisons de la rue Sherbrooke [The Houses of Sherbrooke Street] was an installation created by Melvin Charney for the public art exhibition Corridart, organized in conjunction with the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal. On a lot left vacant by city planners after the demolition of 19th-century Victorian buildings, Charney erected a plywood façade replicating the architecture of nearby houses on Sherbrooke Street. The scaffolding created the impression of a building site and added an air of theatricality. The installation triggered reflection on urban development at a time when City Hall was destroying heritage buildings and public squares to make way for major construction projects.
Driven by a dual interest in art and architecture, Melvin Charney’s practice brought critical thinking to bear on the built environment and urban space. In 1976, Charney organized the Corridart exhibition that ran along Sherbrooke Street from Atwater Avenue to Pie IX Boulevard. Just before the opening of the Olympic Games, the exhibition was torn down under the cover of night by order of Mayor Jean Drapeau, sparking one of the greatest controversies in Canadian art history. Charney’s installation, which deeply irked the municipal administration, was photographed by Gabor Szilasi. His picture was widely picked up by the media as a symbol of the event.