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Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: Nathalie Bondil’s 5 must-sees

Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, talks to us about her favourite works in the exhibition Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: From Spain to Morocco, Benjamin-Constant in His Time, at the Museum until May 31. I discovered this huge painting on the wall of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where it was on loan, holding place of pride in a room dedicated to Orientalism, facing superb paintings by Renoir et Delacroix. Next to these great masterpieces, it emanated strength and seduction, thanks to the brilliance of its colour and the beauty of its models. Here, the painter is interpreting the classic theme of the odalisque. Lounging languidly on rich fabrics, they are lulled by the sweet melody of the oud, played by a black slave. In the distance, the azure horizon of the Bay of Tangier bathes this masterpiece in light. Of course, the painter never actually saw this scene, which was far removed from the reality of women in Morocco… except in the composition of his studio! This Eurocentric vision evokes, with a rarely achieved elegance, the mythical harem. The favourite redhead with the translucent skin is a recurring model… / Read More →

The shadows and light of Orientalism at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Discover the gorgeous palette of Benjamin-Constant till May 31 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts during the exhibition Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism, from Spain to Morocco, Benjamin-Constant in his time . This rediscovery of Benjamin-Constant (1845-1902), a major figure in Orientalist painting, deftly retraces a part of his works but also the ties between friends, styles and themes within his artistic circle in Toulouse (Laurens, Rixens, Debat-Ponsan), Spain (Fortuny, Tapiro, Cordero), Morocco (Regnault, Clairin) and with Eugène Delacroix. The exhibition also includes close to 250 works, including paintings by Orientalist painters such as Gérôme, Rochegrosse, Vernet-Lecomte or Dehodencq, contemporary Moroccan artists, Oriental objects, drawings, watercolours, prints, photographs, books, archives and other documents. A brilliant colourist, Benjamin-Constant treats viewers to a Byantine- or biblical-influenced slice of history. Some of the artist’s masterpieces, once considered too large to be transported, are here for the very first time, including the Sharifas, The Moroccan Caid Tahamy, The Harem, Judith, The Evening on the Terrace (Morocco) or The Favourite of the Emir. The visit is divided into six time frames, six emblematic Oriental places that straddle fictional account and documented reality. The first room, cozy and crimson, is a reconstruction of the Orientalist salon of the painter, a… / Read More →

Things to do in Montréal: January 23 to 29

It may be cold, but it’s cool, too. This week, Montréal is alive with the celebration of winter’s wonder, especially with the electrifying Igloofest outdoor dance party – but that makes the soul-warming indoor moments even more precious. Don’t miss the latest exhibitions, dance performances and live music shows. Outdoor fun Igloofest tops the charts of outdoor entertainment with its second weekend, featuring a mass of amazing DJs, including the spontaneous orchestrations of Germany’s Loco Dice and the heavy, hip-hop inflected tracks of Belgium’s Dave Luxe. Local acts include Enfants Malins, Da-P Dabeatx and Nick Wisdom, if you’re looking to move to Québec’s particular party sound. Parc Jean-Drapeau is a snowy haven of family activities during the Fête des neiges de Montréal, where the kids can skate, zip-line, slide, dog-sled and so much more. Get active alongside them and reward yourself with a feast from one of the food trucks. Or, in the Olympic Village, skate, go on sleigh rides or catch some live music all for free, as the Winter Village continues to emanate its charm. The free outdoor skating rink is one of the best maintained in the city, and what an impressive view! Cozy culture The latest, greatest show… / Read More →

Things to do in Montreal: November 7-13

Fall tastes sweet this week with the last strech of MTL à TABLE, not to mention film festivals, the Montreal Biennale and more live music than you can shake a drumstick at…

The Art of Music at the MMFA’s Bourgie Hall

Art and music intertwine at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, host to almost 100 concerts every year at one-of-a-kind concert venue Bourgie Hall, where music lovers mingle with art connoisseurs to hear classical and contemporary chamber music that traverses the centuries and the globe…

The MMFA brings the sound of Venice to Montreal

In a uniquely multi-sensorial, immersive experience, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has brought to its Desmarais pavilion perhaps not the taste, but certainly the sounds of Venice… The exhibition, titled Splendore a Venezia, is entirely dedicated to art that illustrates the centrality of music to the famous Italian city. From 16th century paintings by Titian to 18th century works by Francesco Guardi, the works on the wall all portray musicians, or musical instruments, or musical patrons, or are by artists who were themselves musicians. At first it may seem like a niche theme, but by golly, this exhibition proves it was about time someone created an exhibition to unite is all. Accompanying the visuals, there’s a soundtrack playing from room to room with classical compositions also ranging in historical periods and styles. And that’s not counting the audioguide, which has 18 pieces to listen to according to prompts on the gallery wall. With the walls painted bright colours and a contemporary Venetian twist to the interior décor, the result of all this stimulation is overwhelming at times, but in a cornucopia kind of way. The riches on display (which include instruments galore, musical partitions and a full-scale gondola, just… / Read More →

Montreal Fall Arts & Culture Guide

This fall, Montreal lives up to its reputation for showcasing international and homegrown artistic and cultural creations, whether at festivals or stand-alone shows. See the latest in world cinema, innovative twists on ballet, comedic opera, family-friendly circus, Shakespearean symphony, dynamic contemporary dance and visual art…

Things to Do in Montreal: August 23–29

Even during some of summer’s most relaxing days, Montreal keeps the entertainment factor high. This week, visit a genuine New-France marketplace, see new films from internationally-acclaimed filmmakers, marvel at world-class art exhibitions, and rock out to live music…

Things to do during a family weekend in Montreal

With a little bit of planning and a diverse range of activities, taking your family to Montreal will be an unforgettable and affordable trip that will become one for memory lane. Here’s an itinerary of three days packed full of fun and food…

THE FASHION WORLD OF JEAN PAUL GAULTIER IN MONTREAL

Since The Costume Institute’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opened at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, popular culture has rediscovered the relationship between fashion design and art. In a stroke of serendipity, this summer the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts pays tribute to another iconic haute couture designer of our time, this one alive and well: The incomparable Jean Paul Gaultier.