“Pied Pipers All” By Rene Cera – Prominent Painting in McLuhan’s Coach House
Pied Pipers All by Rene Cera
Created in 1969 for media guru Marshall McLuhan by his friend René Cera, Pied Pipers All is a wall-sized, psychedelic interpretation of an era in the midst of extreme technological and cultural change.
Unlike many people on campus at the time, Cera actually understood McLuhan’s ideas, interpreting the siren call of television as a frenzied dance of seduction and confusion.
But in 1979, McLuhan suffered a stroke, and the pipers fell silent. With the great communicator unable to speak, the administration decided to close his beloved classroom. The painting was sliced into three pieces and stored in a country barn while McLuhanites such as Pierre Trudeau and Woody Allen rallied for the centre to come back to life – which it did in 1983 as the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.
Today, the pipers are back in one piece (give or take some steel frames, splintered wood and chipped paint), still dancing their frantic warning. http://tinyurl.com/3vyboez
Emma Jackson – May 19, 2011 – 10:17 AM
Art show celebrates little known Canadian master
RENÉ CERA (1895-1992)
Ottawa residents don’t have to travel to Europe to experience the masters this weekend, as an Ottawa South church puts on the one of the only exhibits of French-Canadian artist Rene Cera’s work.
Cera was born in France in 1895 and spent his youth running errands for artistic master Pierre-Auguste Renoir and sketching with Henri Matisse while training at the Nice School of Art. He moved to Toronto in 1928 to work as an architect, and stayed in Canada for more than 30 years, rubbing shoulders with Marshall McLuhan and other cultural icons of the time.
Throughout his life Cera never stopped painting his unique and futuristic visions, and about 80 canvasses have survived the years in his granddaughter’s Greely basement since his death in 1992.
On May 28 about 30 of Cera’s later works, mostly from the 1970s onwards, will come to light at the Our Lady of the Visitation Church in Ottawa South near Bank Street and Rideau Road, where his paintings can be viewed and purchased between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the banquet hall.
Marie Trojan organized the show as a fundraiser for the church’s new hall, after hearing about the paintings from his granddaughter, who attends the church. Trojan said when she first saw Cera’s paintings she was amazed by the beauty of them, and knew that his work had to be displayed and promoted as a piece of Canadian history.
“I was absolutely blown away at the body of work that this man did,” she said. “He never had a name. So until you build the name and you get the work out there, there’s just not going to be a demand for it.”
His paintings evoke the spirit of the masters, Trojan said, with some impressionist pieces harkening back to Monet and other more abstract visions taking on the essence of Picaso.
Cera’s paintings hang across Canada, including his most famous “Pied Pipers All” which hangs in the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, and others in St. Michaels College in Toronto and several embassies.
Source: University of Toronto Archives/Robert Landsdale Photography Ltd. fonds/B1998-0033 [691172-12]
© University of Toronto Archives. Reproduced with the permission of the Archives.
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