La croix du mont Royal recreates controversial 1976 exhibit

It's called La Croix du Mont Royal, and it's a reproduction of a controversial piece that was originally created by Pierre Ayot for the 1976 Olympics.

The reclining cross will be at Parc and Pine avenues until December

La Croix du mont Royal is a reproduction of a controversial piece that was originally created by Pierre Ayot for the 1976 Summer Olympics. (CBC)

A new piece of art was inaugurated on the corner of Parc and Pine avenues Friday, inspired by a controversial display which opened 40 years ago.

It's called La croix du mont Royal, and it is a reproduction of a piece originally created by Pierre Ayot for the 1976 Summer Olympics.

The structure is meant to be a replica of the famous cross that sits atop Mount Royal, but instead of standing upright it is installed on an angle as if reclining.

The original Croix du mont Royal was created by Pierre Ayot in 1976. (Succession Pierre Ayot/SODRAC (2011)/Photo Gabor Szilasi)

The piece was originally part of an art festival called Corridart which was censored by then-mayor Jean Drapeau.

The cross was dismantled by city workers one night and cut into pieces to be sent to the dump. McGill University documented the exhibition and says the mayor thought the cross was "obscene and hazardous to the public."

A victory for local artists

Being able to recreate the cross is seen as a great moment by Montreal artists. 

"In '76 [the artist's] work was destroyed by mayor Jean Drapeau and now we are able to rebuild it, and we're very proud of that new situation," said Nicolas Mavrikakis, co-curator of the current exhibit.

Organizers of this project say this is a victory for artists, as well as a warning to any other politicians who would seek to censor art.

"The message would be to respect the artist and what they do," said Marthe Carrier, director of Montreal's Galerie B-312.

The cross is inspired by the one that sits permanently atop Mount Royal. (CBC)

Plateau, Montreal offer $10K each

"We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to play a crucial role in achieving this event by providing $10,000 in funding to the Galerie B-312," Plateau-Mont-Royal borough councillor Christine Gosselin said.

"We are also delighted to learn that the Coderre administration reversed its decision and contributed the $10,000 that had been promised in 2014."

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre threatened to pull the city's financial support for the project earlier this month, saying the piece lacked "social acceptability."

The cross, which lights up at night, will remain in place until Dec. 19.

With files from Neil Herland