Published: July 25, 2017
MONTREAL – As part of the official programming of Montreal’s 375th anniversary, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) presents “Revolution” through October 9. Initiated by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the MMFA offers its own version and layout of this immersive exhibition, which takes visitors on a trip through time, exploring the ideals of the late 1960s as expressed in music, film, fashion and design, as well as through activism.
The title of this musical exhibition refers to the words of the Beatles’ song “Revolution,” composed by John Lennon in 1968 in response to several violent political protests that took place that year, including the May protests in Paris. The exhibition explores the context for the transformations in Western society, driven by young people with a deep desire for change and freedom. From Flower Power to the Black Panthers, miniskirts to the first man on the moon, From Expo 67 to Woodstock, it recreates the cultural, social, artistic and technological “explosion” that occurred between 1966 and 1970, the repercussions of which are still being felt today.
This extensive exhibition brings together more than 700 works and documents – clothing, designs, posters, album covers, publications, works of art, photos, archival documents, film clips and music – revealing the lifestyle, dreams and protest movements of an optimistic, militant and pacifist generation that sought to break away from the values of the past.
The show includes a number of works from the MMFA’s collection by artists like Gilles Boisvert, Pierre Ayot, Antoine Desilets, Clara Gutsche and Jacques Hurtubise, as well as audiovisual material from 1960s Quebec that illustrate famous events of that watershed era, such as the “Bed-in” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal, L’Osstidcho, the Quiet Revolution and the October Crisis.
Nathalie Bondil, director general and chief curator of the MMFA, explains, “The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 in music. … This is our latest incursion into music, this time into the world of the musical legends of the late 1960s. This summer will be characterized by the evocation of Flower Power and rebellion in song through this striking immersive presentation. Since Montreal was at the epicenter of these revolutions, we decided to highlight its place at the forefront of international Modernism.
“In 2017, half a century later, Montreal still constitutes an oasis of Modernism in North America with its values of tolerance and hospitality, its vast student population and numerous consulates, its social commitment and democratic diversity, representing a unique and essential point of view,” she continued.
“As we celebrate the anniversary, it is the values of Expo 67 that we focus on rather than nostalgic reminiscence: ‘To give our visitors an explanation of the world we live in so that they realize that we all stand together, that what divides people is much less important than what unites them.'”
Diane Charbonneau, curator of the exhibition in Montreal and curator of Modern and contemporary decorative arts and photography at the MMFA, adds: “‘Revolution’ transports us to the 1960s without resorting to a time machine, through the fashions, music, design, technologies and demands of the era. It’s a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds – and for me, as a baby boomer – a look back at an exciting time that was both joyful and rebellious, as the whole world was being reinvented.”
“With momentous political upheaval across the West, it is a perfect time to consider how the finished and unfinished revolutions of the 60s have changed how we live today and affected the way we think about tomorrow. We are hugely excited that ‘Revolution’ will be showing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, a city that saw its own revolution in this period when an idealistic youth culture motivated people to come together to challenge the established power structures across every area of society, and create the world they wanted to live in,” said Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, curators of the exhibition.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is at 1380, Sherbrooke Street O. For more information, www.mbam.qc.ca or 514-285-2000.
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