Hated Public Sculpture by Jean-Pierre Raynaud Nicknamed “The Toilet” Bulldozed in Quebec

The work was a gift from ex- French President Jacques Chirac.

The demolition taking place Photo: via CBC News
The demolition taking place
Photo: via CBC News

Quebec City Council has bulldozed a locally despised sculpture nicknamed “the toilet” as—according to authorities—it was in danger of collapsing.

The eight-meter-high artwork was donated to the city by ex-French president Jacques Chirac in 1987, while he was still the mayor of Paris.

Dialogue with History (1987) by post-modernist sculptor Jean-Pierre Raynaud is a work composed of a stack of white cubes. Meant to commemorate the arrival of settlers to Canada from France, the work was generally hated by locals as some felt it did not fit in with the 18th century Place de Paris it was installed in.

Local nicknames included “The Cube,” “Rubik’s Cube,” “The Fridge,” and the aforementioned “Toilet.”

Jean- Pierre Raynaud's <i>Dialogue with History</i> (1987) before it's demise <br>Photo: via mblonde53.wordpress.com

Jean-Pierre Raynaud’s Dialogue with History (1987) before its demise
Photo: via mblonde53.wordpress.com

“I’ve always wondered why they put it up,” said local resident Angela Von Schoenberg to CBC News. “It’s not an embellishment. It looks like an insult.”

Recently the sculpture had been fenced off, sparking speculation in the community. Then, earlier this month it was announced that the sculpture would be “dismantled for safety reasons.”

Leveled<br> Photo: via <i> CBC News</i>

Leveled
Photo: via CBC News

Dismantled seems a delicate term for what happened as, on June 17, the bulldozers moved in and leveled the sculpture to the ground.

“From the point of view of artistic rights, it would be impossible for them to destroy it without the artist’s authorization,” said Raynaud, speaking to Radio-Canada. “That it should disappear for now, before it’s restored, that doesn’t shock me in itself,” he added after receiving the news that his work had been demolished. He does however expect the work to be rebuilt, perhaps somewhere else in the city.

Raynaud’s work is on display in Japan, Korea, France, Spain, and the United States, and as far as we know, these works remain intact.

To avoid this happening again residents of Quebec could always look to New York where residents can now legally challenge hated public works of art.


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