Pictures at an Exhibition | Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal

The kids are home for spring break this week. Yesterday, I spent the entire day with Jacob at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal - the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I didn’t bring him kicking and screaming either: this was his idea. Cue a father’s pride ;)

I’d brought my X100 along but when I asked a young clerk if photography was allowed inside the museum, I was told it wasn’t. So the camera stayed in the bag. Too bad, I love clean, modern spaces.

We started off with Dorothea Rockburne: In My Mind’s Eye which Jacob loved. Bold, intense colours and geometric shapes were right up his alley. We then moved on to the Lyonel Feininger: from Manhattan to the Bauhaus exhibition, a vast retrospective of the artist’s life and work. Also on display were 70 photographs from his son Andreas Feininger, a bonus to say the least. His most famous picture - The Photojournalist - was part of the exhibit. Quite a thrill to see that Leica up close (!).

Went out for lunch and came back to stroll the permanent collections. As we were making our way through medieval art, I noticed someone taking a picture right in front of a security guard… Hmm. I went up to him and asked again if we were allowed to do this: yes, he said, except for certain temporary exhibitions. Turns out the clerk at the entrance thought I wanted to use my camera in the Feininger gallery - which was off limits and clearly marked as such.

Out came the X100. I finally managed to grab a few shots before it was time for us to leave.

It had been years since my last visit to the MMFA. Sometimes you no longer think about places closest to you. It is an amazing collection and surprisingly, even though my sensibilities tend towards contemporary art, I was deeply affected by the medieval art galleries: the light, tones and contrast in some of the paintings were simply breathtaking. Nothing at all like seeing these in a book or online. When we speak of seeing the light as photographers, we would do well to examine the works of these masters. Their ability to not only see this light, but actually recreate it in such detail using oils and brush strokes… Let’s just say it’s a lesson in humility.

If you’re traveling in Montreal or if you live here and simply haven’t taken the time to visit the museum in awhile, go. Walk around, sit down, relax & take it in.

I know I’ll be going back soon enough.