Indepth Arts News: |
"Cosmos: From Romanticism to the Avant-garde"
1999-06-17 until 1999-10-17
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
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.