Friday, August 28, 2015

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Rodin exhibit

While Ashley was at Upper Canada Village's Time Traveller's Camp, Don and I had some fun in Canada. On one of the days, I took the train from Chris's neighborhood to Montreal to spend the day with Marlene. 

Marlene invited me along as her "plus one" to see the Rodin exhibit at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Rodin has been one of my favorite artists ever since visiting the Musee Rodin in Paris while studying abroad during my Junior year of college. I gladly accepted her invitation.

As it was an overcast day in Montreal, we were not the only ones with this idea. 

The exhibit contains over 300 pieces, including over 170 sculptures, sketches, photographs, and other ephemera. It is quite an extensive exhibit.

Marlene commented that the museum does not typically have traveling exhibits of sculptures which is why they had no idea how to set up a decent travel flow. Unlike pictures, sculptures are best seen from all angles. In order to do that, though, the exhibit ended up with a bunch of dead spaces. Add into the mix some of the sculptures on display were made from plaster, and, according to the descriptions on the wall, are highly fragile, you have a potential recipe for disaster.

Although I have been to the Rodin Museum in Paris, and the one in Philadelphia. this was the first time I could really appreciate just how prolific Auguste Rodin was in creating art. The exhibit contained over 300 pieces. I think it is safe to assume the museums in Paris and Philadelphia are still open to the public. Additionally, other pieces have been destroyed over the years because they are fragile. This means he created a boatload of artwork. Of course he had assistants, such as the infamous Claudette Camille, but he was still in charge of these projects.

My favorite displays were of the same pieces, but in different sizes and materials. I enjoyed studying the transformations. 

The end of the exhibit had a neat video of the Vancouver exhibit entitled "The Burghers of Vancouver." A mysterious patron hired six people to temporarily recreate Rodin's "The Burghers of Calais" as a live statue in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The video told the story of these people -- an anonymous poet, and old Asian lady who only speaks her native tongue, a smuggler, and athlete, a laid-off worker, and a former junky. They meet every day, dress up as the statues, and pose, then go home at the end of the day. The video shows the reactions of the people, most of whom just ignore them. It made me think of J. Seward Johnson statues coming to life.

At the end of the exhibit was a room where you could touch some of the statues. It reminded me of being back in Paris. There were a group of blind students touring the day I went. They were touching the exhibits, so I touched one, too. A guard came up to me and, after catching my eye, explained they could touch because they are blind, but that we, no matter how much we wanted to, could not touch the statutes. Made sense, but I thought it was some sort of European rule that you could touch the statues, after all I had been to museums with windows wide open and sunlight and bugs entering rooms of what looked to me like masterpieces.

By the time the we were done with the exhibit the sun came out and we escaped the museum's crowds by walking around Montreal and heading to the train station.

Thank you for the fun day.

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