1942 - 2019
bronze sculpture with patina and acrylic paint
signed, editioned 12/12 and dated 1986
42 x 14 x 8 in 106.7 x 35.6 x 20.3 cm
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
Preview at: Heffel Vancouver
Private Collection, Vancouver
Peter C. Newman, “The Powerful Gifts and Glaring Flaws of John Diefenbaker,” Maclean’s, March 23, 1963, https://archive.macleans.ca, accessed January 22, 2021
Terrence Heath, Joe Fafard, National Gallery of Canada and MacKenzie Art Gallery, 2007, reproduced pages 144 and 145; listed and reproduced page 220
Vernissage, National Gallery of Canada, winter 2008, reproduced front cover
Marsha Lederman, “Saskatchewan Sculptor Joe Fafard’s Work Inspired Generations of Visual Artists,” Globe and Mail, March 17, 2019, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/article-saskatchewan-sculptor-joe-fafards-work-inspired-generations-of, accessed January 22, 2021
Joe Fafard, one of Canada’s best-known sculptors, created clay and bronze depictions of people and animals renowned for capturing their living essence. Part of a long family line with ties to France and French Canada, Fafard grew up on a farm in Ste. Marthe, a French-Canadian and Metis settlement in southern Saskatchewan.
Fafard settled in Pense, outside of Regina, and began working in clay, depicting farm animals and the inhabitants of the small town. He began casting in bronze in 1984, at a small foundry in Saskatoon set up by two sculptors. He then decided to build his own foundry outside of Pense, which was completed in 1985. Fafard worked in series, producing portraits of well-known artists and politicians, including bronzes of Canadian prime ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Jean Chrétien and John G. Diefenbaker.
Diefenbaker, Canada’s 13th prime minister, was born in Ontario, and his family moved to Saskatchewan in 1903. At age 8 or 9, he told his mother that he would someday be prime minister; she replied that it was an impossible ambition, especially for a boy living on the Prairies. Diefenbaker received his education in Saskatchewan and became a noted criminal defence lawyer. He was hard-working and ambitious, and his road to becoming prime minister showed his persistent belief in his path - he suffered election defeats for two decades before being elected to Parliament in 1940, achieving the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in 1956. In 1957, he was elected prime minister, and he held the position until 1963. His notable achievements include passing the Canadian Bill of Rights and granting the vote to First Nations people and the Inuit.
Born in 1895, Diefenbaker was influenced by his experience of the Depression years, which hit Saskatchewan especially hard. He felt the only way for Prairie farmers to help themselves was through collective political action. He had a great affection for his fellow Canadians and remained a Member of Parliament in the Prince Albert riding until his death.
Diefenbaker was quite a character, and here Fafard depicts him in his later years. In The Politician, Fafard captured him in a characteristic pose - with his hands on hips, standing on a chair, as would have been natural for him when addressing a group of voters in a community hall in his constituency. Whether addressing a small-town gathering or a big-city one, Diefenbaker was known as a persuasive orator. In 1957, the year he became prime minister, he addressed a large crowd in Vancouver, stating, “This is the kind of thing that gives me the strength to continue to work on behalf of the average men and women of this country. From the bottom of my heart I thank you. I won’t let you down.”
Sarah Milroy, chief curator at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, commented: “I think what was so amazing [about Fafard] were the portraits…Whether they were of political leaders or someone from his local community, they all seemed the same. Just folks...Joe had a distinctly Canadian, unpretentious way of seeing the world.” In The Politician, Fafard masterfully captured this man of the people. With his bright eyes, confident pose and a face etched with the hard work of a lifetime, Fafard showed us a Diefenbaker who feels like he is about to set Canada alight again with his vision of the country.
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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