Home » Roxy Paine Sculpture: Controversy in Ottawa

Roxy Paine Sculpture: Controversy in Ottawa

There’s recently been a brou-ha-ha brewing in Ottawa, over the decision by Marc Mayer, director of the National Gallery, to put a sculpture by the 43-year-old New York artist Roxy Paine on Nepean Point, the area nearby to the National Gallery.


A sculpture by Roxy Paine. Image: linka-me.com

Nepean Point is, more precisely, a hill in Ottawa overlooking the Ottawa River, Parliament, the Museum of Civilization, and other features of downtown Ottawa and Gatineau. It is located between the National Gallery of Canada and Alexandra Bridge.

At the peak of the hill is a statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain holding his famous astrolabe upsidedown. And the proposed sculpture, Called One Hundred Foot Line, evokes a tree without branches.


Nepean Point, in Ottawa. Image: jeays.ca

Yet some critics have accused the National Gallery of being ‘unpatriotic’, which is, of course, ridiculous.  They claim that Paine’s art will be “a piece of art that does not reflect our history, culture, or nationality. It is completely out of context to its site.”

As Leah Sandals alludes to, it reminds us of the whole Voice of Fire snafu in 1990.


National Gallery director Marc Mayer. Image: destinationknowlton.com

We’ll let Sandals give her balanced commentary on this one, as well as Peter Simpson from the Ottawa Citizen, who asks, incredulous: “There’s also plenty of outdoor, Canadian art throughout the Parliamentary district, and yet Paine’s piece will tip the city into provincialism?”

Yikes…provincialism, indeed.

Click HERE to read Blake Gopnik’s glowing review of the Roxy Paine sculpture that stands proudly in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

3 Responses to “Roxy Paine Sculpture: Controversy in Ottawa”

  1. john says:

    see designing ottawa , a blog by maria cook for an interview with marc mayer and another post announcing and illustrating the piece .

  2. Leah Sandals says:

    Thanks for the link, Andrea! Will be interesting to see what happens with this one…

  3. Marc says:

    Canadian artist Bill Vazan’s work Black Nest was on the site where Roxy Paine’s sculpture will be installed for close to 20 years. How many of the critics went to see that and wrote about how “patriotic” the National Gallery was for displaying it?

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