AGO unveils PIA-funded public sculpture by Brian Jungen

June 22, 2022News Releases

TORONTO, June 22, 2022 – Partners in Art is proud to support the AGO’s bold new public sculpture by acclaimed contemporary artist Brian Jungen – the museum’s first ever public art commission and the artist’s first large-scale work in bronze.

Jungen, who is of Dane-zaa and European heritage, engages with both Indigenous materials and traditions as well as Western art history and popular culture in his practice. With Couch Monster: Sadzěʔ yaaghęhch’ill, Jungen has constructed the figure of an elephant from discarded leather sofas. “The use of discarded couches came from my experiences of walking the streets of Toronto and seeing them abandoned on the sidewalks waiting to be picked up at night,” said Jungen. “This was foreign to me and surprising, but to the residents of this city, accustomed to seeing them, they are invisible. I look forward to making them visible again.”

The artist was intrigued by the tragic story of Jumbo, a captive circus elephant who made international headlines when it was killed by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario, in 1885. Jungen is deeply concerned with the terrible price living things pay when forced to perform for others, a concern embedded in the title of this work. The Dane-zaa subtitle of the work, “Sadzěʔ yaaghęhch’ill” translates to “My heart is ripping.”

The work, on view now in front of the AGO, is situated at the corner of Dundas and McCaul Streets, the former setting of Henry Moore’s Large Two Forms (1966–1969).

About Partners In Art

Partners in Art (PIA) is a volunteer-led charitable organization funding contemporary art projects across Canada. Since 2002 the Toronto-based PIA has raised over $5 million and supported over 87 different projects. PIA actively collaborates with Canadian curators, educators, art organizations and museums.  We help fund projects featuring contemporary artists with challenging works and thoughtful perspectives through annual member donations, fundraising events and public donations. PIA invests in contemporary art projects, and has worked with 50 partners including the: Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner Museum, Art Canada Institute, Museum of Contemporary Art, OCAD University and the ROM. PIA projects often involve education, publications and promoting alliances among global thinkers in visual arts.


Jenna Faye Powell, Operations Manager

Press: The Globe and Mail