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The Canadian War Memorial

Part 2: A message-monument and a form-monument

My interest as an art historian lies in the work's categorisation. The writer Régis Debray proposed three principal types of monuments: the trace-monument the form-monument and the message-monument.

The message monument describes a real or mythical past event; the form-monument is marked out by its intrinsic aesthetic or decorative qualities regardless of its utilitarian function and testimonial value - it has a self referential aspect and commemorates itself; whilst the trace-monument has a utilitarian value; it is not an original or aesthetic work - it is part of the everyday world.

On a symbolic level, Pierre Granche's Canada Memorial belongs to the message-monument category. The works refers to historical events - the two world wars - and above all to those who fought for freedom. However Granche's memorial can be seen as a hybrid between a message and a form monument because of its intrinsic aesthetic qualities.

Granche's work should also be considered as a paradigm for the development of installation art in Quebec. He began making sculpture in the early 1970s, a time of emerging new aesthetics that questioned the conventions of art galleries and museums and proposed non-traditional means of creating and exhibiting art.

Although Installation Art is now well established, Granche's views on the matter were regarded at the time as highly innovative. He carried out the commission to build the memorial with the same intensity as in all his public artworks, in which there is always integration, whether it be the work into the architecture or the architecture into the work: the truncated pyramid creates the illusion of its being buried in the ground, and granite is pervasive.

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