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Ted Bieler

  • Steel
  • 1984
  • 2.4 m x 1.2 m x 10.6 m
  • 123 Front Street West, Toronto

About the artwork

Standing tall at 35 feet, this twisting, stainless steel sculpture by Ted Bieler will certainly catch your eye. Appropriately named Triad for its three, intertwined arms, this piece was commissioned by Marathon Realty Company Limited, the owners of University Place, to mark the occasion of Toronto’s Sesquicentennial (one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary).

Bieler uses repeating patterns of tetrahedrons on each arm to suggest the familiar, spiralling form of DNA molecules. As they soar upwards, they represent the growth of the city and the deepening of connections between its people. The vertical movement offers a welcome contrast to the horizontal lines of the buildings positioned directly behind the sculpture.

About the artist

Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1938, Ted Bieler studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art and has been teaching, exhibiting, and making public sculptures since graduating. Although he is particularly interested in metal casting processes, Bieler often experiments with new technologies in his own practice. Upon becoming a professor of fine art at York University, Bieler worked with Mr. L.L. Odette to establish a foundry in the Odette Centre for sculpture at the school.

Bieler’s commissioned works include sculptures for Expo ’67 in Montreal and for public spaces throughout Ontario, notably Tetra at Portsmouth Harbour in Kingston, Canyons at the TTC’s Wilson subway station, and Triad on Front Street at University Avenue in Toronto. His monumental outdoor sculpture Wave Breaking can be seen on the grounds of the Canadian Embassy building in Tokyo. His most recent commission, Tower Song, is installed at the Windsor Sculpture Garden.

Prior to occupying his position at York, Bieler taught at the Albright-Knox Art School of the University of Buffalo and in the Department of Art and Archaeology at the University of Toronto, where he initiated courses in both the history and the practice of sculpture. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Sculpture Garden and the Power Plant Gallery at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

Fun facts

  • Ted Bieler is the son of André Biéler, a prolific artist, influential arts activist, and pioneering teacher in his own right. André's vision of a national arts funding organization ultimately led to the creation of the Canada Council, while his dedication to fostering the arts community in Kingston led to him becoming the founding director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Many of his and Ted's works can be found housed in the permanent collection there.

Engagement questions

  • What do you think Bieier's intentions are for his sculpture? Do you think the sculpture achieves its goals?