Monday, May 22, 2017

Montreal and Chagall

I mentioned once or twice that there is a massive Chagall exhibit running at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  It runs through June 11, so there is still a fair bit of time to view it, though the last weekend or two are likely to be very crowded.  It was overwhelming in pretty much every way, both in the amount of material on display and the fact that it was a very popular exhibit.  We turned up at about 11 am, and unfortunately had to pass through two guided tours that were clogging up the galleries.  I'm still glad I went, but it probably would have been better to experience on my own, since I would have fought the crowds to try to see some paintings a second or third time.

The exhibition has Chagall's focus on music and works he created for ballet's (costumes and backdrops).  Here are some of the costumes for a production of Mozart's The Enchanted Flute.

Given how many of Chagall's paintings include a fiddler or an angelic harp, there was a lot of material to choose from, and it doesn't feel like too much was sacrificed to make this exhibit come together.  The catalogue is pretty exhausting, and going through the exhibit in person is even more so, particularly with the crowds.  I was somewhat surprised that most of the paintings could be photographed, though a few were off-limits.  I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few.

Marc Chagall, The Yellow Room, 1911

Chagall, Dusk aka Couple Between Darkness and Light, 1938-43

Marc Chagall, The Wedding, 1944

It wasn't particularly surprising that some of the paintings in the catalogue were not on display, but what was a bit more surprising is that apparently some of the paintings in Montreal weren't actually in the catalogue.  I'm fairly sure that The Yellow Room isn't in the catalogue.  I'm somewhat less sure about Birth (from the Art Institute of Chicago -- not pictured here) and Dusk, but I don't think they are included.

I was glad that there was a room of Chagall's stained glass pieces, though they didn't photograph particularly well.  As I said, it was a pretty overwhelming amount of Chagall and really too much to take in in a single visit, but I won't be able to go back unfortunately.

On our last visit to Montreal, we spent far more time on the Quebec artist installations housed in the building across the street.  This time around we just went to a couple of floors and focused mostly on the Beaver Hall artists.  I liked these two paintings quite a bit.
Philip Surrey, Night, 1938

Adrien Hébert, Corner Peel and Sainte-Catherine, 1948

After this, we took a quick look at the gift shop.  I was somewhat surprised to learn that the museum owned some modern art by European artists, as I don't think I managed to see that on the previous trip either.  So I left my wife and daughter on a bench, and my son and I went in for a lightning strike visit.  I would have liked to spend more time obviously, but I did see the Picasso and Matisse and other modern paintings.

My favorites were these three.

Henri Matisse - Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window, 1922

Lyonel Feininger, Yellow Street II, 1918

Philip Guston, Rain Cloud, 1973

As this post is long enough, I will discuss the rest of what we got up to in Montreal in a follow-up post.

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