Serge Cournoyer designed his first kinetic sculptures while still a student at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal between 1962 and 1966, making him one of the first Québécois sculptors to integrate new technologies in his work, dubbed “object-machines.” His fairly autonomous sculptures are equipped with systems that interact with their environment or perform tasks of a purely formal nature. As such, they question the role of the artist within the creative process and the conventional value attributed to the idea of an art work as the result of subjective intention. Cournoyer’s œuvre follows other innovative and dissenting practices from the 1960s and ‘70s that have helped redefine the status of the artist, namely through the democratization of the artist’s relationship to his or her work and its viewers.

Portait of Serge Cournoyer.
Photo: courtesy of the artist