Secret Lake

Alfred Manessier (1911 - 1993)
Close-up of Secret Lake.
© Justin Wonnacott
ArtistAlfred Manessier (1911 - 1993)
Nationality French
Medium Wool
Dimensions 7.6m x 4.8m
Acquisition Commission
Date 1969

This tapestry, commissioned by the National Arts Centre for the opening of the building, was designed by the French-painter Alfred Manessier and woven by Atelier Plasse Le Caisne. This massive artwork covers a wall space of over 37 square metres. It was inspired by Manessier’s first impressions of the Rideau Lakes, which he visited on his first trip to Canada in 1967.  He was particularly taken with the rugged, “untouched” quality of the Canadian landscape. The impression led him to create a series of paintings based on the land. Secret Lake, installed in the Salon, is a woven rendition of one of those paintings.

Born in Saint-Ouen on the shores of France’s Somme River, Alfred Manessier (1911 – 1993) began painting at the age of 12. In 1929, he went to Paris to study architecture at l’Ecole des beaux Arts, but he was absorbed by painting and spent many long hours in the Louvre, making copies of the masters. Eventually he gave up architecture to study under such artists as Le Moal and Roger Bissière. His works progressed from figurative to cubist, to pure abstraction, until he developed a style uniquely his own. As an artist, he was particularly interested in the transmission of light from the canvas, and the juxtaposition of pure colours. This combined interest has contributed greatly to his designs for stained glass windows and tapestries, commissioned for modern churches and public buildings in France, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

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