Thursday, February 13, 2014

Montreal's Fleur de Lys Theater, part 3

As I continue to search for the specific architect/artist who designed Montreal’s Fleur de Lys cinema, I continue to come up against dead ends.  Simple Google searches didn’t get me far, and I have only been able to find brief references through other sources.  I studied nearby architecture built around the same time, and that didn’t yield any results either.  I had been pointed in the direction of Montreal’s Place des Arts, but the architects who designed those various buildings didn’t seem like a stylistic match to the concrete frieze that decorates the Fleur de Lys.  I thought the next logical step would be to study the artists and sculptors whose work is displayed throughout the complex.  Perhaps that would lead to a solution.
"I will haunt you in your dreams" -Montreal's Fleur de Lys Cinema

I’ve sort of been doing this since this research began, really.  I couldn’t put an artist’s name to the Fleur de Lys decoration, so I tried researching artists who were working at the same time the cinema was built (the late 60s).  I might be able to find an artist working in the same style.  Because of the World’s Fair held in Montreal in 1967 (Expo 67) the city was overflowing with public art and monuments, and the task wouldn’t be easy.

I was able to find several artists who share stylistic elements with the frieze, but none seemed to be a good match.  Some of the artists I researched included:

Jordi Bonet

Bonet seemed promising for a while.  He produced large amounts of public art throughout Montreal (including a mural at the Place des Arts) and much of it takes the form of murals made out of various materials including concrete, ceramic, and metal.  But, his work doesn’t look exactly like what’s on the side of the Fleur de Lys.  Bonet’s work is often much more detailed and can tell a much more recognizable story (he created a lot of Christian-themed murals for churches).   I also discovered a fairly comprehensive list of Bonet’s work on the web, and the Fleur de Lys theater wasn’t part of it.  Strike one.
A Jordi Bonet mural

Charles Daudelin

Like Bonet, Daudelin also created several public art pieces that can be found all over Montreal (both artists created pieces for the city’s Metro system).  They were also both well-established artists in the late 60s.  A Daudelin sculpture is placed in the lobby of the Theatre Maisonneuve at the Place des Arts, and like much of Daudelin’s art it is composed of abstract forms that can vaguely resemble human or animal forms.  There seemed to be a slight connection to the Fleur de Lys mural, but just like with Bonet, the differences outweighed the similarities.  Daudelin was also fairly well established at the time, and I could find no documentation that listed the Fleur de Lys frieze as one of his artworks.  Strike two.
A free-standing Daudelin sculpture

 Sorel Etrog

Of all the artists I researched trying to find answers for this post, Etrog seemed to get me the closest.  His work is somewhat biomorphic, he was active in the 1960s, and would occasionally create murals or relief sculptures (although most of what I saw consisted of free-standing sculptures).  But, like with all the artists I researched, I was able to find no documentation linking Etrog to the sculpture in question.  Strike three (really something like strike 27 at this point – I have researched so many artists at this point I’ve lost count.  These three were just the closest matches I found).
Two figures by Etrog

So I must end this series of posts with a question mark.  I hate loose ends, but I’m afraid I must move on for the sake of my precious sanity.  I’ve wrapped my head around this thing dozens of different ways over the last few weeks and really feel I need to turn my attention to new things.  At least for now.  My research will continue, but in the background.  There are still some resources that I can turn to, and I'll post an update if I can ever find more specific information.  

At this point, one may ask why I even care.  The building and its decorated frieze obviously aren’t important enough to garner much attention, and thousands of people probably walk by everyday and don’t even bother looking up.  But it’s there just the same, and there are people who do care.  As an artist myself, I know how much time and energy goes into the creation of a work of art.  This piece was made by someone, and the last thing this artist wanted was to be forgotten.  

Next time, I (reluctantly) move on to a new topic.  It might be something you've never heard of.


  1. I was involved with building the club and did have the original architects plans. They now may be in possession of a friend. The building was designed by a German firm and built by a Montreal builder.I believe that the frieze was designed in Germany. It naively evokes native Canadian motifs but isn't related specifically to one culture. It is rather vaguely west coast...or Haida in inspiration. That is consistent with what we would expect for a German architect. I can put you in contact with the current owner who may be able to put you into contact with the current actual landlords.

    1. Thank you so much for this information. If it was a German designer than that might explain why I can't find any info here. The frieze being made in Germany makes sense- it was cast in pieces and some of it actually repeats. I had read of the Haida influence as well. I would greatly appreciate it if you could connect me with the landlords- you can contact me at Thanks again!


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