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View of “Sorel Etrog,” 2017. From left: Untitled, 1963–70; Homage to Cimabue Study, 1968. Photo: Will Amlot.

Sorel Etrog

Edel Assanti

View of “Sorel Etrog,” 2017. From left: Untitled, 1963–70; Homage to Cimabue Study, 1968. Photo: Will Amlot.

Born in the small Romanian city of Ias¸i in 1933, Sorel Etrog rose to fame in his adoptive country of Canada, though he remains too little known abroad. To some audiences there, he is above all the author of somewhat cheeky public sculptures; to others, the director of the critically acclaimed experimental film Spiral, 1974, which led to a collaboration with Marshall McLuhan on the 1987 book Images from the Film Spiral. But no matter from what angle Etrog’s life and career are examined, they reveal the artist’s remarkable tenacity. Having survived the Holocaust, Etrog moved with his family to Israel in 1950, where he took his first steps as an artist before gaining a scholarship to the Brooklyn Museum School in New York. He moved to Toronto in 1963 and lived there until his death in 2014. 

Although most of his sculptures, at first glance, seem abstract, there is a strong relationship

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