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Fair Grounds

Fair Grounds

Michel Goulet

Fair Grounds
  • 16 stainless steel poles and 8 stainless steel chairs
  • 2003
  • 3.6 m x 1.8 m x 4.5 m
  • 255 Wellington Street West, Toronto

About the artwork

Fair Grounds is a poetic celebration of the physical and psychological experiences people share. The bright, jubilant colours of the ribbons fastened atop each pole recall the tradition of tying a ribbon around objects – a tree, a cherished item, or one’s finger to remind or commemorate the hopes, wishes or fond memories associated with a particular person, place or thing. The chairs, unique in period and style, are arranged in a variety of pairings expressing the diversity of our relationships and communications. The title and arrangement of the work remind us of the fairness and equality necessary to our shared existence.

About the artist

Michel Goulet is a Quebec artist and sculptor born in 1944, and lives and works in Montreal. In the Canadian cultural milieu, he is considered one of the outstanding sculptors of his generation. His works can be found in many important public and private collections, and in 2004, they were the subject of a large retrospective exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. He also presented a major exhibition at the CIAC in 1997.

Recognized for his indisputable contribution to public art, Goulet has created more than forty permanently installed works. In 1990, he produced a work for the Doris Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York and that same year, the Ville de Montréal commissioned a monumental work that has become a seminal work of public art. His works can be found in such places as Havre (1 st Biennale du Havre), at the heart of a public square in Montréal, on Belvédère Abbé Larue in Lyon, along the central path of an urban park in Quebec City, in downtown Toronto or on the beaches by the sea in Vancouver. He also has collaborated with poets of the French-speaking world, bring together their texts with those of Arthur Rimbaud for a permanent sculptural installation in Charleville-Mézières, the poet’s birth placeTwo years later, he created similar work to honour Henri Michaux, installing them in ten or so places in the city and province of Namur in Belgium.

In 1988, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale and in 1990, he received the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, the Quebec Government’s highest distinction given to a visual artist. In 2008, he was presented a Governor General’s Award in recognition of his exceptional career. In 2010, the University of Sherbrooke, awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 2012, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada and recently in 2018, he was made Officer of the National Order of Quebec.

Numerous prizes also highlight his significant contribution to scenography. In 1993, he created his first work at the invitation of Denis Marleau of Théâtre UBU. Since then, he has conceived of many major set designs for theatre and opera with Marleau. He has also worked with directors Lorraine Pintal (Chants Libres, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde) and Gilles Maheu (Carbone 14).

Fun facts

  • Michel Goulet tries to find new ways of communicating and sharing art. For the artist, monumental public art installations do not have to be disproportionate but can also be tiny and commensurate with the spaces.

Engagement questions

  • What do you think the artist wanted to communicate? What do you see in the artwork that makes you say that?