Sunday, October 28, 2012

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on world tour of Impressionist masterpieces

 Edgar Degas
Paris, 1834 – Paris, 1917
Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
Bronze with gauze tutu and silk ribbon, on wooden base
99 cm
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA
(Photo by Michael Agee)

I don't need much of an excuse to visit Montreal, and the new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is enough to make me cash in my frequent flier miles and head to Quebec. 

MMFA is hosting the exhibition Once upon a Time ... Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark. For the first time, one of the finest collections of Impressionist works in North America is being displayed, exclusively at the MMFA. It opened Oct. 13, 2012 and runs through Jan. 20, 2013. The show is organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in WIlliamstown, Massachusetts and produced in collaboration with the MMFA for its exclusive Canadian presentation in Montreal.

Seventy-four paintings by Bonnard, Corot, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Millet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec were selected for the tour. There are also 21 canvases by Renoir and the Degas sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which will be on view exclusively in Montreal. Academic works by Bouquereau, Gerome, Stevens and others are also in the exhibition. 

According to MMFA's Director and Chief Currator Nathalie Bondil, American Robert Sterling Clark assembled one of the finest collections of Impressionism in North America. "It is a rare privilege to be able to display these works here," said Bondil, who said the selection focuses on the Impressionist movement itself -- its genesis, context and legacy.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Limoges, 1841 – Cagnes-sur-Mer, 1919
A Box at the Theater (At the Concert)
Oil on canvas
99.4 x 80.7 cm
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
© Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA
(Photo by Michael Agee)

Montreal is the only Canadian venue for this historic tour during major expansion work at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. More than one million visitors have already viewed the Clark Collection during its international tour to Madrid, Milan, Giverny, Barcelona, Fort Worth and London. Following Montreal, the exhibition travels to Japan, China and South Korea before returning to the Clark for the opening of the new wing designed by architect Tadao Ando.

The Montreal connection is due in part to art collector Robert Sterling Clark's visit to the Quebec city to check on his collections, which had been in storage since 1938 when World War II was looming. Several of his pieces remained in Montreal until the Institute opened in 1955 in Williamsburg. The two cities are only a few hundred kilometres apart. 

Ongoing programs and activities will run in conjunction with the exhibition. They include Impressionism in Films at Cinematheque quebecoise, a two-part program featuring a selection of films that highlight connections with Impressionism in regard to aesthetics, subjects and history; and a series of 13 films by Jean Renoir, son of Auguste Renoir.