Addendum to: René Cera’s Mural Painting “Pied Piper’s All” (1969) is Returning to St. Michael’s College


 René Cera

Addendum: September 11, 2016

In a Google Group message from Rome on this date Eric McLuhan writes:

Just a note of correction or two:  The piece by Cera was always three sections. They were put together and painted that way – so to say it was “cut into three pieces” is not accurate. When the Centre was shut down, the painting was taken to St. Michael’s and ‘stored’ in a hallway above the library there, just leaning against the wall. It was not taken away and stored in a barn in the country, but remained at the University of Toronto.
Best wishes from Rome,
– Andrew and Eric McLuhan

My Reply: My source for that apparent misinformation is a short article published online by U of T, with the author, unfortunately, unnamed. Here it is in its entirety:

Still Life with Fruit it’s Not
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.

Thank you, Andrew and Eric for correcting that published misinformation. It seems to me that it doesn’t much matter whether the mural was cut into 3 pieces after the closing of the Centre in 1979, presumably for storage purposes, or whether it originated in 3 pieces and was painted and mounted that way. Thank you for setting the record straight. But do you know for certain that the painting was “‘stored’ in a hallway above the [Fisher] library there, just leaning against the wall,” from 1979 until this year? That’s 36 or 37 years! Perhaps U of T moved it to a storage barn at some later date without your knowing. Again, it doesn’t much matter now that the painting is refurbished and soon will be back.

Either way, the disposition of this historically important painting shows scant respect for the artist, the U of T Centre for Culture and Technology for which it was created and its late Director, or the taxpayers’ money that was used to pay for it. That is a shame and I hope the University of Toronto’s recent largesse in supporting the McLuhan legacy at the University of Toronto in the form of the McLuhan Centre and its ambitious programming represents a measure of compensation for past neglect. Let’s hope that the institutional support continues.

Thank you again. And safe travels home………Alex Kuskis

Buckminster Fuller and McLuhan

Buckminster Fuller & Marshall McLuhan in front of René Cera’s painting Pied Pipers All (Image: Dick Darrell/Getstock)


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