by Melanie Takefman
When construction of the Science Complex began in 2001, the sculpture
that watched over the Loyola campus from the corner of Sherbrooke and
West Broadway, had to be moved.
Transcendence, by Walter Führer, was commissioned by the House
of Seagram for the Expo 67 world fair and was donated to Loyola College
in 1968. The 24-foot stainless steel structure represents man and space
travel; the brass ball in the centre is a motorized globe.
Over the years, Transcendence became decrepit; it was full of graffiti
and assumed a blue and rusty hue. Enter Claude Lamarche of Concordias
Science Technical Centre. We had to scrap it or restore it,
Lamarche said. I felt ashamed to leave a nice piece of art unattended.
Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa agreed to pay for materials, and
Lamarche spent 14 days of his 2002 summer vacation refilling holes with
metal, sandblasting the sculpture and replacing the motorized globe. He
was assisted by studio arts graduate Gary Cherkas.
Transcendence now sits in front of Hingston Hall. Its
as beautiful as it was at Expo 67, Lamarche said.
He hopes that Concordias Physical Resources Department and students
will help preserve the restored sculpture, and added that people have
been placing pieces of wood in the motorized globe, causing it to stop
Walter Führer was born in Zurich, and started out as a painter. In
1955, he moved to Montreal and taught himself how to sculpt, often finding
inspiration in garbage left on the street. Führers work has
been exhibited in the National Gallery of Canada and the Musée
Rodin in Paris, and is part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
He was considered a reserved man by the media and those who knew him and
spent much of his time at the family country home outside of Montreal.
He died in 1996, but his wife Edith visited the statue in its new location
with their son Philippe in January. She passed away shortly thereafter.
On a recent visit to Transcendence, Philippe Fuhrer admitted that
he knows little about the sculptures themes and how it was received,
given that he was born several months after Expo 67. He works in the public
sales division of Cirque du Soleil and laughed as he explained that though
he is not an artist, he is more artistic than his job requires.
Gazing at the restored sculpture, he said, I find it a little rigid,
too stern. I prefer curves, but with the trees, its nice. If it
was alone without anything rising above it, it would be too imposing,
but, this way, its more discreet.