March 19 2012
Today’s focus is on probably one of the most photographed sculptures in Montreal. It seems like whenever I pass by the “The Illuminated Crowd” outside the BNP Tower on avenue McGill College that there is always someone taking a picture of it.
Created in 1985 by Franco-British artist, Raymond Mason, this unique public sculpture is made from stratified polyester resin with polyurethane paint.
The Illuminated Crowd is a sculpture consisting of 65 people of all ages, race, facial expressions and conditions, depicted on four platforms. The sculpture illustrates the degradation of the human race and symbolizes the fragility of the human condition.
The plaque at the base of the sculpture reads: “A crowd has gathered, facing the light, an illumination brought about by fire, an event, an ideology — or an ideal. The strong light casts shadows, and as the light moves toward the back and diminishes, the mood degenerates; rowdiness, disorder and violence occur, showing the fragile nature of man. Illumination, hope, involvement, hilarity, irritation, fear, illness, violence, murder and death — the flow of man’s emotion through space.”
I tried in the next 3 images to display this movement of emotion and human fragility that leads from the front to the rear of the sculpture.
With 65 figures portrayed in the crowd, there are so many angles to shoot this art piece from. I thought I would concentrate on taking a few tight shots of some of the figures.
Raymond Mason was born in Birmingham, UK on 2 March 1922 and died in Paris, France on 13 February 2010. He was awarded a scholarship to Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts. Following being invalided out of the Navy in 1941, he won a painting scholarship to the Royal College of Art before returning, the following year, to Birmingham, where he earned a living producing portraits.
In 1946, he left for Paris, which was to become home for the rest of his life. There he found himself in the company of some of the greatest figures of twentieth-century art, from Balthus and Duchamp to Giacometti and Picasso, and, inspired by their example, set about making his own distinctive contribution to modern sculpture.
While I was shooting the sculpture, I had a couple of ideas for some shots. One was to pull the zoom back during exposure, unfortunately not having my tripod with me, I didn’t succeed achieving the effect I really wanted, but for the sake of reminding me to go back someday and try again, here is the best effort I obtained.
I think shooting the sculpture at different times of day and at night will be worth trying as well…so guess I will be going back sometime in the near future. Also the BNP tower (also known as the BNP Paribas and Tour Banque Laurentienne) is worthy of some attention by itself. This 20 floor tower has some great angles that I want to photograph more. One interesting side fact I discovered is that it was built in 1981 and coincidentally is located at 1981 avenue McGill College!
To view images in gallery format, simply click on one of the images below.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.