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"Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-garde"
1999-06-17 until 1999-10-17
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
Montreal, QU, CA Canada

Art in Search of Infinity According to Museum Director Guy Cogeval, the exhibition Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-garde, presented in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion from June 17 to October 17, 1999, deals with the theme of infinity as expressed by the human imagination. Cosmos reveals its discoveries chronologically, from Romanticism's contemplation of the moon to NASA's breathtaking photos of earth taken from beyond the moon. It is not so much a checklist of scientific discoveries and the conquest of the space as it is an attempt to explore the ever-expanding visual frontiers that artists bring within the grasp of our senses through their visionary creations.

Museum visitors could scarcely forget The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis (1991), The Body on the Cross (1993) and Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe (1995), three exhibitions headed by the same guest curator, Clair, director of the Musée Picasso for the past ten years. This fertile collaboration between the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Clair and his team of specialists has brought the Montreal public thematically original exhibitions of staggering proportions. Combining history and current events, poetry, literature and music (including jazz), beliefs and sociology, high art and the everyday with a sidelong glance at science, each of these exhibitions, by breaking away from conventional art history, opened up new horizons to visitors. Yet, there remained one final frontier to conquer: the cosmos. Well before the year 2000 had been reduced to the collective anxiety of the millennium bug, former Museum Director Pierre Théberge came up with the idea of marking the arrival of the third millennium with a great cosmic celebration. He wanted to examine not a period in history, but the evolution of an idea that led from the exploration of the earth to the exploration of space - a challenge tailor-made for Jean Clair and Company! In the meantime, although Théberge had left Montreal for Ottawa, Guy Cogeval, one of the co-pilots of the Symbolist exhibition, took over the helm at the Museum and kept the Cosmos rocket - already in orbit - on course. As Théberge said, the show demonstrates brilliantly that the artists of the last two centuries celebrated the cosmos in a way every bit as fantastic as today's astrophysicists.


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