The Quebec artist Michel Goulet was born in 1944 in Asbestos and studied at the Université de Sherbrooke and the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has pursued a dual career as an internationally renowned artist and an educator, teaching first at the University of Ottawa and later at the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is recognized on the international art scene for his sculptures and permanent public art works, but also for his set designs for theatre and opera.
He has shown his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and has represented Canada at the Venice Biennale (1988). The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal mounted a retrospective of his work in 2004.
Michel Goulet has received a number of honours, including the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, the highest distinction awarded to visual artists by the Quebec government (1990), and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2008). He was made an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2018.
The second part of Michel Goulet’s Les leçons singulières is composed of six unmatched chairs and a table-sculpture reproducing the relief features of Parc La Fontaine. The sculptural grouping, made of bronze and stainless steel, stands out for its accessibility. These artefacts of daily life, skilfully diverted from their primary functions, enhance the experience of the site. The chairs, arranged in an arc facing the park, offer a breathtaking view of nature, whereas the map provides orientation.
The objects that personalize the chairs also reflect citizens’ use of the site. A newspaper, shoes, a ball, binoculars, and a lunch bag remind viewers that the park is a common site, a shared space encouraging ritual experiences such as sociability, friendliness, and encounters. The artist considers the artwork “a metaphor for the relationships among people and peoples in their sharing of space and their perception of it.”