Fredericton, New Brunswick December 7, 2009 — The Beaverbrook Art Gallery unveiled the first sculpture in the Legacy Sculpture Garden on December 4. The 25 ton/25,000 kilos granite sculpture, The Birth of Venus, was commissioned to New Brunswick Artist André Lapointe. The unveiling marked the final event of the Gallery’s 2009 anniversary year
Director and CEO Bernard Riordon O.C. states that the creation and installation of Lapointe’s work is a fitting finale to the Gallery’s anniversary year. “The Gallery’s 50th anniversary has provided an opportunity to celebrate the Gallery’s glorious past, revitalize the Gallery and prepare for the future. The Lapointe sculpture and the Gallery’s permanent collection are central to that revitalization.”
“The unveiling of this sculpture is just the beginning of more inspirational public art that we have to look forward to in this Legacy Sculpture Garden,” said Mayor Brad Woodside. “This is a fitting way to mark both the Beaverbrook’s 50th Anniversary and Fredericton’s designation as a Cultural Capital.”
The Birth of Venus is made of Black Cambrien and Grey Stanstead Granite and is approximately 12 feet/3.66 metres in height. At once representational and abstract, contemporary and traditional, the work was commissioned earlier this year to mark the Gallery’s 50th anniversary and the designation of the City of Fredericton as a 2009 Cultural Capital of Canada.
A gigantic scallop shell, in combination with other biomorphic forms suggestive of a wave and a flower, The Birth of Venus stands at the intersection where culture meets nature, symbolizing the beginning of all art in the natural world. Emblematic of the sea, the primal, archetypal form of the scallop shell has a rich, multi-layered history in art and myth, symbolically referring to birth, resurrection and the pilgrimage of life. A form of symmetry associated with Saint James, it is an important motif in Salvador Dalí’s icon masterpiece, Santiago El Grande, perhaps the best-known work of art in the Gallery’s permanent collection. The shell is also the most familiar component in Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
Curator and Deputy Director Terry Graff, says of the work “André Lapointe’s poetic sculpture enriches the cityscape of Fredericton, visually and conceptually, connecting with the surrounding waterfront environment. Its universal message of rebirth is most fitting for marking the cultural legacy and future of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the City of Fredericton as an important centre for art and culture in Canada.”
André Lapointe is a professor of sculpture at the Université de Moncton. Born on a Gaspé Peninsula he finds inspiration in the maritime environment of his childhood. His works can be seen at the Université de Moncton and at the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes in Caraquet. He created an environmental sculpture, Effleurements, for the City of Dieppe who named him its cultural ambassador for 2003-2005.
The Birth of Venus is now part of the permanent collection of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. It will be joined by other sculptures in the coming years. Organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, The Birth of Venus commission was a City of Fredericton 2009 Cultural Capital of Canada project. Funding was provided from The Department of Canadian Heritage (through the Cultural Capitals of Canada program) and the City of Fredericton.
The Gallery also opened Celebrating 40 Years: New Brunswick Art Bank Anniversary Exhibition. Organized by the New Brunswick Art Bank the exhibition shines a spotlight on New Brunswick Anglophone, Francophone and Aboriginal artists in the provincial collection.