Gerald Gladstone

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Gerald Gladstone

1929 - 2005
RCA

Gerald Gladstone always resisted definitive explanations for what his art meant. He described his welded metallic sculptures as intuitive representations of the universal order - an expression of his interest in the physics of time and space, in which he sought the link between the intangible infinite of the idea and the empirical dimensions of the object.
Born in Toronto in 1929 to British parents, Gladstone was the sixth of nine children. As a young man he dedicated himself to both painting and music, at one point forming a jazz band in which he played clarinet. In his early twenties he married, and supported his family with various jobs, eventually landing in commercial advertising where he worked for 15 years, rising to become the art director of a leading Toronto agency. Deciding that his passion lay elsewhere, he opened a studio and left the industry to devote himself full time to art. He found recognition among his contemporaries, exhibiting at the Isaacs Gallery alongside Canadian stalwarts Michael Snow and Graham Coughtry. In 1957 he had his first solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto. In 1959 he won a Canada Council travel grant and relocated his family to London for several years, where he studied at the Royal College of Art. There Gladstone met his mentor, prominent British sculptor Henry Moore, whose sensuous formalism is echoed in Gladstone’s later “earthbound” works like Female Landscape (1972), a public fountain in Montreal’s Place Ville Marie.
Gladstone is best known however for his “spacebound” sculptures of the 1960s - intersecting geometric forms of parabolas, cones and rods - the smaller works sometimes encased in blocks of clear lucite. He found success domestically and internationally through the 1960s and 1970s, having a solo show in New York and receiving numerous public and private commissions. For Expo ’67 in Montreal he constructed Uki, a fire-breathing dragon that rose out of a man-made lake. The Ontario government commissioned Gladstone to construct The Three Graces (1972), a public fountain which sits at Bay and Wellesley streets in Toronto. His largest work at over 21 feet and weighing some 6,000 pounds, the bronze colossus Universal Man (1976) was commissioned for the CN Tower, where it was displayed for over a decade before being relocated to the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. His international work includes a public fountain in Canberra, Australia and a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in Los Angeles. The Art Gallery of Ontario held a retrospective of his work in 2003.