The MMFA’s Latest Exhibition Turns to the Post-Impressionist Days of Paris

Art from la belle époque.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ latest exhibition since its reopening in June takes a Midnight in Paris-esque turn to la belle époque, a revolutionary era for Parisian artists that lasted from the Franco-Prussian war (roughly) until the start of the First World War. The exhibition, called Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants, presents over 500 works by artists from the avant-garde art movements that defined the times—Symbolism, Nabism, Cubism, Fauvism, Impressionism, and Neo-Impressionism—including the largest collection of masterpieces by painter Paul Signac. An intellectual and pioneer of the Post-Impressionist movement, Signac is known for co-founding the Salon des Indépendants in 1884 alongside a group of other artists. The annual exhibition promoted a democratic approach to art, maintaining that it should be accessible to all to advance the common good of society. It became a haven for innovative artists who were rejected by traditional salons, including Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh.

 

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Roses, 1905, gouache on cardboard. Private collection.

Paul-Élie Ranson (1861-1909), Princesses on the Terrace, 1894, encaustic paint on canvas. Private collection.

 

Signac’s vision and that of the Salon des Indépendants, encapsulated by his famous words “Justice in sociology, harmony in art: one and the same thing,” is illustrated in the exhibition with 80 of his works. Alongside the works of his Neo-Impressionist peers, this is the largest exhibition of this scale in Canada, featuring many works never before seen.

Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants is on view until November 15, 2020. Tickets must be purchased online beforehand here.

 

Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), Fin de séance, 1910, oil on canvas. Private collection. © The Lyonel Feininger Family LLC (SOCAN) 2020.

Maximilien Luce (1858-1941), Steelworks, 1899, oil on canvas. Private collection.

Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Spider, or Smiling Spider (Araignée ou Araignée souriante), 1887, lithograph on chine appliqué, proof before letters. Private collection.

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