b. Chatham, Ontario 1946
Following graduation from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1971 and Rhode Island School of Design 1973 (with one year Rome scholarship), Gordon Reeve returned to Canada and in 1974 won two juried sculpture competitions. In 1976 he began a career at the University of Manitoba teaching sculpture, eventually becoming head of the area and Full Professor until retirement. In 2008, 2010 and 2012 he received awards for excellence in teaching. In 2011 student Graham Leverick, Mech. Eng., was awarded the Gold Medal in Engineering for proving Reeve’s floating sculpture uses buoyancy as a controllable passive energy source.
Reeve pursues sculpture, teaching and filmmaking with similar audacity and passion. In 1970 his was the first site-specific work to be installed on the formal grounds of Cranbrook. A year later at RISD he created massive beach installations of construction materials and executed a major commission using 40’ wooden beams, a 1500 pound bronze/water sculpture and a 20’ water wall. In 1972 he won a scholarship to study in Rome where he researched Etruscan Gold, carved marble and was invited to spend time with Henry Moore in his home and later in his studio at Henraux in Pietrasanta. Formal technical and historic research has always been a significant part of his practice and his teaching.
Arriving at the University of Manitoba in 1976 he began entering sculpture competitions. Over the next period he was a finalist in two and a winner in three others. The fourth win (1985) was his first major kinetic work, Justice (32,000 lbs.) He spent nearly two and a half years building it then turned to film for a brief hiatus that lasted 10 years.
The rigorous jury/peer review process involved in public sculpture competitions is much like that used in finding funding for films. Reeve produced, wrote and directed 17 films shot on location in the most important private and public collections of modern art in Europe and North America. The documentaries are meditations on the creative process. Some of those interviewed were among the world’s great performers. Others were connected personally or professionally to the artists themselves and the collections that now house their work.
Film sequences include La Scala, La Fenice, Versailles, Palais Garnier, construction of the Paris Opera Bastille, (Canadian Architect Carlos Ott) and a film about Ivan Eyre, I am the Hornblower, the first exhibition by a living Canadian in the new National Gallery of Canada. All films and research material were judged by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board to “meet the criteria of outstanding significance and national importance” and now reside with the University of Manitoba, Gordon Reeve fonds. Two films, The Will to Win and Moment of Light are also in the National Archive, Ottawa.
In 2000 he started making sculpture again. Experiments with LED technology and fiber-optics in the UK led to The Sharon Screens (2000) for a Jewish Seniors facility. He used animation, programmed lighting, gold-plated woven scrims and archetypal Judaic images to stimulate cognition in the elderly. Luna was next and a year was spent casting and recasting a ten-inch thick glass disk that was set into a stainless steel form. In 2007 his proposal Les Megaferriques was recognized with an Award of Merit, NCC, Ottawa.
In 2008 he won a national juried competition to build Agassiz Ice. In the next seven years he entered several competitions. He was a finalist in Mississauga, Imagined Trajectory (2011), experimented with buoyancy, completed the engineering collaboration mentioned earlier, finished Silver Meridian (2011-2013) Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe (2013) Wheel of Nations Rotary International Centennial (2013) and A Place of Many Grasses (August 2013 – September 2015).
He continues to seek new opportunities for site-specific sculpture.
*Each sculpture recorded on the CV as (built) was subject to peer jury decision.
GORDON M. REEVE