Artful Blogger

THE ARTFUL BLOGGER: Up a tree with piano crusher (and artist) Maskull Lasserre





Want to see this piano get crushed by a boulder? Really! All in the name of art. And Ottawa Magazine was there to record the event.

Last Thanksgiving, artist Maskull Lasserre had a surreal ceremony in the autumn forest at his parent’s Gatineau home to crush a life-sized piano he had built of steel. Paul Gessell was there to write about it — and Graham Law captured the feat on video. Click here to watch the video.

An angry-looking turkey buzzard was blocking my path. Actually, a life-sized bronze sculpture of a turkey buzzard was blocking my path, a path into a cramped wooden shed located in the front yard of the Old Chelsea home of veteran artist Robert Hyndman. I instantly fell in love with the turkey buzzard and asked its creator, sculptor Maskull Lasserre how much it would cost. Alas, it was already sold.

Lasserre was barely into his 20s that day in 2004. The since deceased Hyndman, well into his 80s back then, had let the young sculptor use his old shed as a studio. Hyndman was an artist and long-time teacher at the Ottawa School of Art. He had a good eye for young talent. And Lasserre was definitely a young talent worth nurturing.

Shortly after that encounter in Hyndman’s shed, Lasserre moved from the north end of Gatineau to Montreal, to do a Master’s in Fine Art at Concordia. Maskull’s work became more interesting over the years as he explored surrealism, the macabre and humour in his sculptures. He began carving animal or human skeletons into bed posts, wooden clothes hangers and other objects. And then there were the pianos.

Artist Maskull Lasserre creates the steel piano — then modifies it with a 750-pound boulder dropped from a great height.

Last Thanksgiving, Lasserre had a surreal ceremony in the autumn forest at his parent’s Gatineau home to crush a life-sized piano he had built of steel. I had a choice that day: Share Thanksgiving turkey with some old friends in Ottawa or head to Gatineau to watch Lasserre crush a piano with a 750-pound boulder dropped from 45 feet above the ground. Naturally, I chose the piano crushing and, for the first time in living memory, passed Thanksgiving without a taste of turkey.

Want to learn more about Maskull Lasserre and his work? Discover this wizard of a sculptor in the 2012 Interiors edition of Ottawa Magazine, on newsstands beginning Feb. 6, 2012.

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