Five sculptures at the University of Toronto

Recognizing the potential for public art to enrich the campus environment, during the 1960s and 70s the University of Toronto commissioned or accepted as gifts a number of notable outdoor sculptures for the main St. George campus. Most are by well-known Toronto-area artists and are representative of the fertile artistic currents at the time.

Solar Net (1963, at top) reflects artist Gerald Gladstone’s interest in celestial bodies and space exploration. Mounted upon the Larkin Academic Building at 15 Devonshire Place, the sculpture’s patinated bronze discs and rods effectively contrast the rough limestone of the wall behind.

Robert Murray created Becca’s H (1973), a vibrant ruby-red counterpoint to the subdued Galbraith Building at 35 St. George Street. The slanting plane beneath the crossbeam introduces a dynamic quality to an otherwise static minimalist construction.

Suitably sited in front of the Medical Sciences Building, Ted Bieler’s Helix of Life (1971) represents the double helix of DNA through its spiraling ribbons of precast concrete. The undulating concrete forms of Waves (1967), also by Bieler, emerge from the surface of the building’s courtyard. Sculpted precast concrete wall panels are by Bieler and Robert Downing.

Outside the Anthropology Building at 19 Russell Street is Cedars (1962), a cast-bronze piece by Walter Yarwood. Yarwood originally intended the shapes to be much larger, producing a peering-through-the-trees effect from inside the building, but this smaller-scale version was ultimately commissioned. Horizon (1964), another Yarwood bronze, is mounted on the St. George Street façade of nearby Sidney Smith Hall.

Like an inscrutable sentinel, Ron Baird’s Untitled (1964) vigilantly guards the College Street entrance to the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. The sculpture’s shield-like triangular plates and long vertical spars are of steel and bronze.

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2 Responses to “Five sculptures at the University of Toronto”


  1. 1 Christian Cassidy December 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Solar Net, then, is a cousin of Gladstone’s Solar Cone from the old Winnipeg International Airport. I did a history of the airport art and it’s one piece that I couldn’t find whatever happened to it. Maybe it got run over and ended up at U of T ! http://westenddumplings.blogspot.com/2011/11/looking-back-at-winnipegs-airports-part.html


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