Treasures of contemporary art at 1+1=1


April 25, 2014 — Montréal’s two biggest museums have come together to produce a sum greater than their parts: the unique and brilliant exhibition 1+1=1: When Collections Collide, featuring the best contemporary art of their shared collections.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal had the brilliant idea to unite some of the very best pieces in their permanent contemporary art collections to make a whopper of a show in the Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion of the MMFA. They selected five dozen works out of a choice of about 8,000 per institution!

The MMFA’s contemporary art curator Stéphane Aquin explains the birth of the idea: “The director of the museum, Nathalie Bondil, thought it would be fantastic to make the spring of 2014 the season of contemporary art. She said, ‘Why don’t we invite the Musée d’art contemporain?’ It’s a first— it’s never been done in the 50 years since the MAC was founded.”

The MAC’s director John Zeppetelli adds, though, that the curatorial process wasn’t all smiles and giggles. “We must admit there was an aspect of friendly competition about the project,” he laughs.

The result is all the richer for it—blending Canadian and Québécois art seamlessly among the iconic international works, the exhibition’s six rooms boast some fascinating dialogues between art works, and a stellar artist lineup: everyone from David Altmejd to Ai Wei Wei to Louise Bourgeois to Betty Goodwyn is represented. It is, indeed, the kickoff to a killer contemporary art season.