MMFA: The painting at the time of independence

MBAM: La peinture au temps de l’indépendance

MONTREAL – The exhibition “Paris at the time of post-impressionism: Signac and the self-employed”, presented at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, revisits the works of Paul Signac, and several painters who, at the end of the Nineteenth century, defended the idea of an art that is accessible, without a jury, outside of the institutions.

“We wanted to tell the story of the development of the Salon des Indépendants, which was founded in 1884 with the idea of creating a platform for exposure, completely open, democratic, outside the government system, outside the academic system and open to all the people who wanted to be artists, explained Mary-Dailey Desmarais, co-curator of the exhibition. In addition, Signac was someone who believed deeply in the ability of art to contribute to the common good.”

Over 500 paintings were gathered for the occasion at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MBAM), all originating from a private collection. If the painter Paul Signac is well-represented, several artistic movements are also, while this Show has seen the works of several different styles, representative of post-impressionism who settled in the time.

“Through that period of time, the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 20th, the Salon des Indépendants was really at the crossroads of all the great movements in the avant-garde in the history of art, continues the who is also curator of modern and contemporary international art at the MMFA. This is the neo-impressionism, the nabisme, symbolism, expressionism, cubism, or fauvism, one of the representative works and outstanding in each of these movements in the exhibition.”

Art and politics

For the co-commissioner, this desire that had Signac and his contemporaries to want to leave the established institutions to evolve in parallel still remains very topical.

“We can see since a few years a lot of popular movements, social movements, anti-institutional, a lot of social inequalities, she said. And it is a little of what these artists were living at the time of Signac. It was the “Belle Époque”, a period that is associated with the feast, to the development in science, technology, but there were also people who were suffering a lot, there was a lot of poverty, a lot of movement anarchists. Moreover, Signac, and several of his contemporaries read on the theories of anarcho-communist authors such as Peter Kropotkin. This is someone who really had the will, through her art, to bring about social change.”

Through landscape paintings often bright, always very colorful hides and a policy proposal for the property assumed.

“For him, there was a parallel between ideas of anarcho-communists, who say that two distinct individuals who are in equal situations, if they work together, could create a harmony greater than the sum of those individuals, and an optical theory, which is to say that the two colors distinct, but complementary, applied one next to the other, could create a third effect that is more harmonious, has summary Mary-Dailey Desmarais. Therefore, there is a parallel between the vibration produced by this visual harmony that he wanted to create in his paintings, and the social harmony that was his ideal.”

“He said, “justice in sociology, harmony in art, the same thing,”” says the co-curator.

The exhibition “Paris at the time of post-impressionism: Signac and the Independent” is presented at the Musée des beaux-arts in Montreal from July 4 to November 15.

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