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Time (and art) remembered

Restored 1960s artwork by Claude Théberge gets facelift with installation of clock
September 5, 2012
By Shelagh Peden

Walking from the Guy-Concordia metro to the Henry F. Hall Building, you've likely noticed a large cement structure. First proposed by the Montreal transit system, then commissioned by the Bank of Montreal, the mural (intended to beautify an air vent) was created by local artist Claude Théberge (1934-2008).

The BMO clock in 1966
Above: The artwork as installed in 1966 | Photo courtesy of Antoine Lamarche.

Completed in 1966, the mural was sculpted first as a Styrofoam mould and then cast as a single piece of concrete. It originally sported a clock at the upper-left corner, as can be seen in the original photo taken at the installation of the untitled artwork.

For many years, no one knew what happened to the clock, and in recent years, many more didn't know the mural was missing a clock. Clarence Epstein, director of Special Projects and Cultural Affairs in the President's Office, oversees Concordia's public art program as well as the Quartier Concordia project.

"We're very pleased to have restored the artwork to its original appearance and to have the clock replaced. Projects such as these underline the university's pride of place in this eclectic neighbourhood. Positioned within Montreal's new Place Norman Bethune, Théberge's work stands out as part of our urban heritage."

The BMO clock in today
Above: The new clock recently restored to the untitled artwork by Claude Théberge | Photo by Concordia University.

Concordia's public art collection is a culmination of being home to a world-renowned Faculty of Fine Arts and the university's commitment to the Program to Integrate Art into Architecture and the Environment, also known as the one-per-cent program, administered by the government of Québec.

Developed in the 1960s around the time of the Théberge piece, the one-per-cent program now obligates every institution that benefits from provincial funds for construction to dedicate a portion of a building budget to public art.

Claude Théberge's major Montreal works also include a sculpture at the Georges-Vanier metro station, stained-glass windows in Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle church and a fountain at Viger Park.

Related links:
•    Public Art site
•    Théberge Wiki (in French) 

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