Paris in the days
Signac and the Indépendants, a major new exhibition at the MMFA
Starting on July 4, 2020, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will invite visitors on a journey back to Paris at the turn of the 20th century to meet the great masters of Post-Impressionism.
Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants will present over 500 works from an outstanding private collection, including the largest body of masterpieces by Paul Signac (1863-1935) ever shown as well as works by Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, Odilon Redon, Maximilien Luce, Théo Van Rysselberghe and Maurice Denis, among others.
The setting for the exhibition’s starting point will be the first Salon des Indépendants, held in 1884. Some 100 creations by Signac will illustrate the artist’s quest for chromatic and social harmony as well as other movements that grew out of this turbulent era, such as Symbolism, Nabism, Fauvism and Cubism.
Paris, 1900: a revolution was underway during the Belle Époque. “Art for all!” declared artists who exhibited under the motto “no jury, no awards.” Cofounder of the Salon des Indépendants, Paul Signac made a name for himself as the theoretician of the so-called “post-impressionist scientists.”
Inspired by the chromatic theories of Charles Henry, Ogden Rood and Michel Eugène Chevreul, he applied pure colour to the canvas in tightly placed dots, so that the form would emerge from the optical blending in the viewer’s eye. He sought to create total art, somewhere between the paradise lost of the golden age and social utopia.
Signac championed positivist painting, which promoted technical and political modernity. The new pointillist style of his “Neo” peers spread like wildfire from Paris to Brussels, glorifying the better days to come. Moreover, according to the writings of such critics as Fénéon, Signac positioned himself as an engaged intellectual in the era of the Dreyfus affair.
Discover a magnificent body of paintings and graphic works by Signac and the avant-gardists: Impressionists (Degas, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro), Fauves (Dufy, Friesz, Marquet), Symbolists (Gauguin, Redon), Nabis (Bonnard, Denis, Lacombe, Sérusier, Ranson, Vallotton), observers of life in Paris (Anquetin, Ibels, Picasso, Steinlen, Toulouse-Lautrec) and, of course, Neo-Impressionists (Cross, Luce, Seurat, Van Rysselberghe).
The exhibition is complemented by a catalogue published in French and English by the MMFA’s Publishing Department in collaboration with Les Éditions Hazan, Paris, presenting the results of research and scholarly articles by experts on Post-Impressionism.
It features texts by Mark Antliff, Nathalie Bondil, Charlotte Hellmann, Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Claire Denis, Phillip Dennis Cate, Marina Ferretti Bocquillon, Gilles Genty, Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Anne Grace, Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, Patricia Leighten, Katia Poletti, Véronique Serrano, Nicole Tamburini, Belinda Thomson and Richard Thomson.
SIGNAC AND THE INDÉPENDANTS
Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion – Level 3
July 4 to November 15, 2020
Visitors can buy their tickets online as of June 22, 2020, at mbam.qc.ca/en/ticket-office
Images: courtesy of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts