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Art Public

Ville de Montréal

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Michel Goulet

Détour : le grand jardin

Presentation of the artwork
On the large jetty between Lake Saint-Louis and the canal is a garden made of 36 masts to which are attached colourful objects serving as flags. Tools, instruments, architectural elements, and signs of all sorts greet viewers who stroll among these playful flagpoles. The masts, precisely aligned in six rows like a quadrant of a Cartesian plane, are surrounded by a circular podium, a seesaw, two chairs set face to face, and a gate left ajar.

Set within a vast open space and composed of these unlikely “flags,” the installation resembles an improbable United Nations Plaza. The podium, chairs, and seesaw evoke having a voice, encounters, and friendliness. The colourful objects, practical or playful in nature, make this public area a familiar place where people find common symbols. Thus, the components of the artwork converge, in the spirit of bringing people together, to celebrate a sense of community.

Détour: le grand jardin results from a displacement of everyday elements into the public space to change their use. This approach is the cornerstone of Goulet’s production of works of public art, which has extended over more than three decades.
Associated events
Presented for the first time, in model form, in 1994 at the second Salon international de sculpture extérieure de Montréal, the artwork was then donated to the Ville de Lachine by André Harel and installed in Parc René-Lévesque.
Michel Goulet
Born in Asbestos in 1944, Michel Goulet studied art at the Université du Québec à Montréal. A number of his large-scale projects are in the form of poem-chairs anchored to the ground in public areas, such as the ones temporarily installed at the southwest entrance to Central Park in New York (1990) and those in Place de la Gare in Québec City (2008). Goulet explored this concept when he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1988. His works of public art are also on display in Toronto, Lyon, and Paris.

He had a retrospective exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 2004.
Awards and honours
  • Ordre national du Canada, 2012
  • Docteur d'honneur, Université de Sherbrooke, 2010
  • Membre de l'Académie royale des arts du Canada, 2009
  • Prix du Gouverneur général en arts visuels et en arts médiatiques , Conseil des Arts du Canada, 2008
  • Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, 1990
Fine Arts
Collection name
Public art
Date completed
Mode of acquisition
Accession date
January 1, 1994
Welded; bolted; pierced; painted
Aluminum; galvanized steel
General dimensions
500 x 1865 x 2109 cm
Détour : le grand jardin
Parc René-Lévesque