WINANT, Alice (1928-1989)

Alice Winant, Jeune femme au collier. Photo (RC) : Espace pour la vie, Jardin botanique de Montréal.

Romanian-born Alice Winant was imprisoned at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz in the final stages of the Second World War. It was during her two years of recovery at a hospital in Sweden that she first pursued sculpture under the guidance of artist Carl Helbig. She went on to study at the École des beaux-arts de Paris before moving to Montreal in 1954. Winant’s work from the sixties consists primarily of human figures, particularly mothers and children; inspired by the work of Giacometti, her bronze sculptures reveal a careful attention to texture. In the early seventies, she participated in exhibitions at the Association des Sculpteurs du Québec and began producing colourful, dance-inspired sculptures in polished bronze. She was invited to Paris to work in the studios of the Musée Rodin in 1971, and in subsequent years, presented her artwork in Canada, the United States, Europe and Israel. Her pieces now belong to major private and museum collections and include First Jewel (of which two versions exist), a statue that remains at the Montreal Botanical Garden. In 1972, Winant made the following statement in the press: “It is possible that sculpture has become the symbolic discipline of survival, a way of creating forms and imparting order to inert materials.” These words are reflected in her delicate and sylphlike sculptures, whose supple, elegant lines counteract the stark violence she both witnessed and endured.