According to FY Jacques Chirac, here is the former president of France in 1992. He appears to be in Montreal: if the architecture isn’t a give away, the “à louer” sign is for sure. According to a Plateau Mont-Royal document that now only exists as a google webcache, he came here around that time to inaugurate this monument to Charles de Gaulle on Sherbrooke Street East, a gift from the City of Paris to Montreal on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the city’s foundation. Chirac was a protégé of de Gaulle and (obviously) a member of the same political family.
I have to admit, I’ve walked past it a million times and had no idea what it was (and even less curiosity to find out.) The Union Gaulliste de France puts it very diplomatically:
Il est légitime de se demander si l’art abstrait n’avait pas ses limites dans la représentation du témoignage de respect, d’admiration et de reconnaissance, surtout quand on parle de l’art public.
“It is legitimate to question whether or not abstract art is limited with regards to the expression of respect, admiration and recognition, especially when it appears as public art.”
Of course, the purpose of the monument may have intentionally been obscured for political reasons. Charles de Gaulle is a very controversial figure in terms of the relations between France and Canada, having declared in 1967, from no less of a pulpit than the balcony of the city hall of the country’s largest metropolis “Vive le Québec libre!” (To which of course Prime Minister Pearson retorted “Canadians do not need to be liberated.”)
Ever since that incident, the Government of France’s official position on the issue has been “non-interference, non-indifference.” As for Canadians’ opinions on the question, 1992 was four years before the most recent sovereignty referendum…