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This Summer the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Makes a "Green Shift"
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavillion. Photo: Christine Guest.

MONTREAL.- This summer, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will be going green. On the one hand, the Museum will be presenting the exhibition Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscape 1860-1918, from June 18 to September 27. The “environmentally friendly” design and catalogue will provide a contemporary take on the subject. On the other hand, the Museum will be hosting an exhibition simultaneously celebrating Frédérick 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 will examine 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 will reveal 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 will 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 will enable us to exhibit some of the most celebrated examples of landscape painting and photography ever produced by these two nations. American painting will be 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, will also be 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.

Nature Transcendent explores the spiritually infused idealization of landscape conjoined with meticulous detailing embraced by the Hudson River School and its followers.

The Stage of History and the Theatre of Myth explores the historical and mythic framework into which landscape was projected in the two countries and its concomitant depictions of Native peoples.

Man versus Nature investigates the manners in which the transformation, exploitation and destruction of nature were presented in the name of progress.

Nature Domesticated turns to the different vision of nature that evolved in North America as a consequence of its wide-open spaces and the importance of the city.

The Urban Landscape examines the rise of an alternative expression of the optimism and Providential destiny previously articulated by the evocation of Virgin Nature.

Return to Nature addresses the “rediscovery” of the transcendence of nature and its spiritual facets through landscapes by artists working within the stylistic terms of the twentieth century.

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 is 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 will be mostly mechanical. The exhibition’s rest areas will be furnished with paper softseating, paper benches made out of 50% recycled content. Their organic and harmonious geometrical forms will echo the design of the exhibition by creating actual interior landscapes.

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