Sculptor, painter, writer and philosopher: Sorel Etrog

Renowned sculptor, painter, writer and philosopher Sorel Etrog was born in 1933 in Iasi, Romania. In 1950 he left his native Romania for Israel where he studied at the Tel Aviv Art Institute.

Sorel Etrog

Sorel Etrog

His first solo exhibition was in Tel Aviv in 1958, after which he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. In 1959, he had his first Canadian solo exhibition at Gallery Moos in Toronto. Leaving New York for Toronto in 1963, Etrog became a Canadian Citizen and in 1966 represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. Since the late 1950s until the present, Sorel Etrog’s work has been exhibited extensively in one-person exhibitions in Canada and internationally including Gallery Moos, Toronto; the Dominion Gallery, Montreal; Dunkelman Gallery, Toronto; Evelyn Aimis Gallery, Toronto; Marlborough Godard Gallery, Toronto; Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, Vancouver; Rose Fried Gallery, New York; Martha Jackson Gallery, New York; Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; Marlborough Gallery, New York; Valley House Gallery, Dallas; Hokin Gallery, Palm Beach; Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles; Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Schneider Gallery, Rome; Springer Gallery, Berlin; Hanover Gallery, London; Naviglio Gallery, Milan; Galerie d’Eendt, Amsterdam; Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris; and the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Palazzo Vecchio, Florence; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Havre; Musée Rodin, Paris; Kuntsmuseum, Basel; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, amongst others.

Etrog’s work is represented in the major capitals of the world and is in- cluded in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Mont- real Museum of Fine Arts; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Storm King Art Cen- ter, Mountainville, New York; the University of California, Los Angeles; Kunstmuseum, Basel;Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, Holland; Musée d’Arte Moderne,Paris; Museo Internazionale d’Arte Contemporano, Florence;the Tate Gallery, London, amongst many others.

Etrog has received several important commissions, including those for Expo ’67, Montreal; SunLife Centre, Toronto; Windsor Sculpture Garden, Windsor, Ontario; Los Angeles County Museum, and Olympic Park in Seoul, Korea. He designed the Canadian Film Award in 1968, originally called the “Etrog,” later renamed the “Genie.”

Sorel Etrog is also well known for his writings and published plays, poetry and non-fiction. Of his many collaborations, the most acclaimed are his book illustrations for Eugene Ionesco and Samuel Beckett in the late 1960s. Sorel Etrog and Marshall McLuhan collabo- rated on the publication Spiral which was drawn from Etrog’s film of the same title which was broadcast on CBC television in 1975.Numerous reviews, articles, monographs and catalogue texts have been written about Etrog’s work. Sorel Etrog was appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and was made a Chevalier of Arts and Letters by the Government of France in 1996. He describes his art as “tension created by pulling together and pulling apart, with being stuck and being freed, a world of grabbing and holding on and losing hold….bringing shapes together but at the same time giving each an independence.”

Crafted predominantly in bronze and more recently in rolled sheet metal, Etrog’ s sculptures are reminiscent of the structures of the human body or of the massive bolts and hinges of heavy machinery, always suggesting a latent potential for movement.