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Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918
June 18 - September 27, 2009
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is going green. On the one hand, the Museum is presenting the exhibition Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918, from June 18 to September 27, 2009. The "environmentally friendly" design and catalogue provide a contemporary take on the subject. On the other hand, the Museum is hosting an exhibition simultaneously celebrating Frédéric Back, an activist-artist who, through his images and his films, has attempted to spread awareness about the intrinsic value of the natural beauty that surrounds us. Lastly, the Museum is taking this opportunity to announce its new policy of sustainable development.
The exhibition Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918 is the first exploration and analysis of this subject. The show examines American and Canadian landscape painting and photography in the years encompassing the American Civil War, the emergence of the Canadian Confederation and the close of World War I, an era of artistic and historical transformation coinciding with the westward expansion of Canada and the realization of the transcontinental political definition of both countries. Through the presentation and comparison of American and Canadian depictions of landscapes, the similar and differing intentions underlying their production, their complementary yet distinctive compositional structures and styles, and their prioritizations of subjects, the exhibition reveals much about both nations. Following its presentation in Montreal this summer, Expanding Horizons will travel to the Vancouver Art Gallery in October.
Close to 200 works by American and Canadian artists shed light on the national and regional identities of these two great countries, in which nature is ever-present. The generous co-operation of outstanding international public and private collections enabled the Museum to exhibit some of the most celebrated examples of landscape painting and photography ever produced by these two nations. American painting are represented by such artists as Bierstadt, Chase, Church, Cropsey, Duncanson, Eakins, Hartley, Hassam, Heade, Homer, Inness, Kensett, Moran, O'Keeffe, Remington, Sargent and Twachtman; and photography by Coburn, Curtis, Jackson, Muybridge, O'Sullivan, Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand and Watkins, among others. Outstanding paintings by Canadians, including works by Brymner, Carr, Cullen, Edson, Fraser, Gagnon, Harris, Jackson, Jacoby, Leduc, MacDonald, Milne, Morrice, Suzor-Coté, Thomson and Verner, as well as works by photographers, including Baltzly, Henderson and Notman, are also presented.
To better explore and analyze these distinctions, the exhibition has been divided into six thematic sections that, while inevitably maintaining a certain chronological flow, also serve to focus the viewer on the different attitudes towards the terms of encounter with nature in the two nations.
To read more about the themes of the exhibition, please click here. For related quotations please click here, and for a chronology, click here.
"Over and above art-historical research, how can we also integrate certain values that are common to us all? Each time we plan an exhibition, we are challenged by the absolutely essential issue of its relevance not only in scholarly, but also in wider, societal terms," declares the Museum's Director, Nathalie Bondil. "That is why I wanted to take a very environmentally friendly approach to the exhibition design and catalogue of this contemporary take on the subject of landscape, and asked Frédéric Back, a visionary who has always put his art at the service of the natural world, to act as spokesperson. The Museum, of course, intends this to be a long-term commitment involving every level of the institution."
In parallel with the exhibition Expanding Horizons, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is presenting Frédéric Back: One with Nature from June 18 to September 27, 2009. The Museum has founded necessary to bring to light the unique work of this artist, an environmental activist before it became fashionable. This exhibition features two sketchbooks, fifty-four original drawings and nineteen original sequences of cels from the films The man Who Planted Trees and The Mighty River. Many works are being exhibited for the first time. Visitors will discover too L'horreur boréale (The Boreal Horror), created especially for the exhibition. Richard Gagnier Head of the Museum's Conservation Department, is the curator of the exhibition.
ECO-DESIGN AN ECO CATALOGUE
In keeping with the exhibition's theme of celebrating nature, the Museum is making a green shift for the design and catalogue of the exhibition by following the principles of eco-design.
Eco-design is a contemporary practice that takes into account the re-use capacity and composition of materials, with a bias towards local products. In order to implement this innovative initiative, the Museum has been collaborating with a number of professionals. For the exhibition design, two companies have accepted the challenge: architecture firm Atelier Big City in Montreal and molo design studio in Vancouver. The design concept emphasizes recyclable or reusable materials, and the construction methods are mostly mechanical. The exhibition's rest areas have been furnished with paper softseating, paper benches made out of 50% recycled content. Their organic and harmonious geometrical forms echo the design of the exhibition by creating actual interior landscapes.
To learn more about the exhibition's Eco-design, please click here.
Under the general editorship of Hilliard T. Goldfarb, a catalogue has been published by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Publishing Department, co-published and distributed internationally by Somogy Éditions d'art. This major 320-page publication, with 220 illustrations, includes essays by the members of the academic committee and constitutes a major contribution to the understanding of this period and its landscape art. The catalogue is available in separate English and French editions.
Two partners have been entrusted with various aspects of the catalogue: orangetango is responsible for the graphic design and Transcontinental Litho Acme for the printing. The catalogue mock-up has been printed on two different types of paper: for the text, rough paper composed of 100% post-consumer fibres, and for the reproduction of the works, a less absorbent paper composed of 30% post-consumer fibres. The printing involved aluminum printing plates, vegetable inks and FSC-certified paper; as many elements as possible surrounding the production of this publication is conform to the strictest regulations of good environmental management.
Please click here to read an excerpt from the exhibition's catalogue by Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
For more about historical context, excerpted from the Introduction to the catalogue, please click here.
List of authors:
Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associate Chief Curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is the curator of the exhibition. He has been supported by an academic committee of specialists, including Philip Brookman, Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art; Brian Foss, professor, Concordia University, Montreal; François-Marc Gagnon, professor, Director, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia University; Lynda Jessup, professor, Queen's University, Kingston; Jackson Lears, professor, Rutgers University, New Jersey; Ian Thom, Senior Curator, Historical, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Expanding Horizons has aroused a great deal of scholarly interest. A number of renowned U.S. and Canadian art historians and specialists have accepted our invitation to participate in a major symposium to be held September 18, 2009, from 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Museum's Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, under the direction of Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Associated Chief Curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and chief curator of the exhibition. A round-table discussion will close the symposium, to which everyone is invited.
Speakers will examine the symposium's overall theme -- National Schools: Myth or Reality? -- from a variety of viewpoints.
Complete details concerning the symposium will be available on the Museum's Web site (mmfa.qc.ca/symposium) beginning August 15, as well as in its Cultural Activities brochure, to be issued in early September.
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For biographical information on artists referenced in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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