Groupe (1990.003) [Group (1990.003)], 2021, Metal work table, plaster, 115 x 96 x 93 cm
Anne Kahane is known for her public art works made of wood and, towards the late 1970s, metal. Although the composition, movement, and material of Groupe evokes the large scale of modern outdoor sculptures, this piece is surprisingly small. Desjardins imagines it could be the model for an addition to the sculpture garden, and has created the fictional landscape in which it might exist.
On September 28, 2020, at 10:43 a.m., Caroline Pierre, Assistant Curator for Education, sent Chloé Desjardins a description of object 1990.033.
The object I chose is a 1957 work by Anne Kahane titled Group. This piece from the MAJ’s collection was unknown to me, although it was exhibited in 2018 at the Maison de la Culture Claude-Léveillée (February 24 to May 13) as part of the show The Museum Exposed. Highlights of the Musée d’art de Joliette Collection. Apart from this fact, the history of this work does not mention any particular detail, except that it was acquired by the MAJ through an anonymous donation.
Although the dimensions listed in the database suggest the small size of this sculpture (12.3 x 13 x 10 cm), the first thing I noticed when the collections assistant woke the work from its slumber was that the documentary photograph I had consulted significantly altered the perception of the space. Obviously, since no other visual referent is present in this photograph, the object appears much larger than it actually is. In truth, although the work isn’t tiny, it is smaller than its digital representation would suggest.
It is a seductive work; the contrast between the material (copper) and the form provokes confusion – that of the encounter between the rigidity of the material and the fluidity of the movement. The overall form of the object may vaguely evoke the idea of folds of fabric. The ambient light in the storage spaces enhances the colour of the yellow copper. Depending on our position in the space in relation to the work, these highlights are reminiscent of watercolour washes. The colours range from ochre to burnt umber to steel black. This effect is reinforced by the smooth, polished surface of the copper, which acts like a mirror.
Drawn from its sleep and placed on a shelf, the object also reflects the surrounding works. It seems to absorb these reflections and integrate them into its own structure. The integration of these reflections continues as the collections assistant rotates the work, simulating the experience of the spectator who would circle around it to better contemplate it.
In paying attention to the piece, certain material effects are revealed as it rotates. At first the copper surface appears smooth and flawless, but as one approaches the object one notices that it is slightly oxidized in spots. Or, rather, there is a corrosion that seems more pronounced at the seams (seven in all) created by the soldering of the work to its base.
Although fixed to its base, the work seems to be in constant motion. This aspect is particularly marked when we observe it from above. From this perspective, the sinuous outline of the object reminds me of the work Territoires, from the Équinoxe series, by René Derouin (the first work of the 1 percent policy at the Musée d’art de Joliette, around 1991–92). This outline has a very organic appearance that can be associated with the notion of territory or of landscape formation.
It is precisely because of this appearance that I chose this object. It mobilizes various reflections and personal concerns related to the notion of space, which I am fascinated by and obsessed with.
Anne Kahane, Groupe [Group], 1957, Brass, 12,3 x 13 x 10 cm
Collection of Musée d’art de Joliette. Anonymous gift. 1990.033