Working from the 1940s until her death in 1987, Sylvia Lefkovitz produced a body of work that one critic described as “profoundly humane.” It includes murals, oils, drawings and prints, and sculpture rendered in bronze, silver and marble. It won her renown in Europe, where she lived and worked for several decades, and at home in Canada.
Born in 1924, she studied at l'École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, Columbia University in New York, and the Académie Julian in Paris. She mastered mural technique while living in Mexico, and applied it to her series of murals on the "Life of Louis Riel" (on exhibit for decades in North Battleford, Saskatchewan) and "The Acadians," now housed at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia.
Lefkovitz moved to Florence in 1960. It was there that she mastered the classic "lost wax" process, in which the artist's wax prototype is used to cast a bronze sculpture. It was a perfect medium for her work, and she soon won Florence's Porcellino Award as Best Resident Foreign Artist. Critical acclaim throughout the country quickly followed, as she relocated from Florence to Rome, and finally to Milan, where she lived for eighteen years.
After a long series of Italian exhibits and retrospectives, and two decades of awards and commissions in both Europe and North America, Lefkovitz returned to Montreal in 1981. She worked and taught there until her death in 1987.
Major commissions include the eighty-figure "Divine Comedy" bronze, produced in 1963, as well as the "Fathers of Confederation," a series of ninety separate bronze pieces commemorating the 1967 Canadian Centennial. The massive five-figure bronze "Chorus" was a Montreal landmark for years, standing above the entrance to the Mies van der Rohe Westmount Square Complex. And eight bronze "Biblical Panels" in bas relief (inspired by Ghiberti's Bronze Doors on the Baptistery in Florence) recount several stories from the Old Testament.
Sylvia Lefkovitz's life and work in both Italy and Canada were profiled in the National Film Board of Canada's documentary In Search of Medea: The Art of Sylvia Lefkovitz.
Sylvia in 1959
Sylvia in 1962 among famous works in the Vallecchi Studio in Florence, Italy, where she worked for two years
Sylvia carving Canadian wood in Montreal, Canada
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