Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sculpture Garden, MMFA

Last week I took a lunch-time guided tour of the Sculpture Garden at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. In the past, I've reported on visits to Fondation Maeght (in St.-Paul-de-Vence last September) and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden (in Washington DC last March) so it's only fitting that I post about a visit to a local sculpture venue. No, the MMFA is not in the same rank as the others, but still the tour was enjoyable.

Jaume Plensa, Shadows II
stainless steel and granite, 2007

What is Plensa saying about text and the human form? That we become fully human through the use of language? That we shield ourselves with words?

Joe Fafard, Claudia
bronze, 2003

One of the best things about sculpture gardens is that you're free to interact with (and yes, touch) the art. Fafard is a well-known Canadian sculptor who specializes in animals. When commissioned to fill a space in downtown Toronto, he produced seven monumental cows like this, titled The Pasture, known impudently as "The Group of Seven."

Of course every sculpture garden must have its Jim Dine:

Jim Dine, Three Hearts on a Rock
bronze, 2002

and its Henry Moore:

Henry Moore, Large Totem Head
bronze, 1968

The Chihuly glass piece has pride of place on the steps of the Museum's original building. It was acquired through a large fundraising campaign. Fears of vandalism have proven unfounded, though the piece is disassembled every fall for winter storage. Plans are underway to construct a protective vitrine that will allow for year-round display.

Dale Chihuly, The Sun
blown glass and steel, 2002

Montrealer David Altmejd is a favourite son, whose solo show at the Musée d'Art Contemporain last summer broke all attendance records.

David Altmejd, The Eye
bronze, 2010-2011

David Altmejd, The Eye
bronze, 2010-2011

Can you see the large void in the torso?

When the tour ended, we walked west along Sherbrooke Street and came upon a lovely urban oasis, beside the Church of St Andrew and St. Paul. I have walked by this church hundreds of times, but I've never noticed its verdant hideaway.

With two tables for six at the far end of the gravel path, I hope my text'art group will be able to lunch there sometime soon.


Margaret said...

Thanks for sharing this, Heather...Being a bit of a Prairie gal now, I got a kick out of the idea of a "Group of Seven" cows! (grin) it's been years since I walked Sherbrooke and saw the art on display. I would love to see the Chihuly; I first heard about his work on Craft in America. Glad to know it's safely stowed away for the winter! And the church...I don't remember the garden either, but my mother and step-father were married in the chapel there 59 years ago (July 23) step-sis and I were tiny (3 and 4 respectively) flower girls...I have shadowy memories of great beauty and majesty inside the church. I believe once I was at McGill in the late sixties/early seventies, I attended a few concerts your lovely photos take me back. I must plan an art walk the next time I visit Montreal.

Heather Dubreuil said...

I hope you will get in touch the next time you're planning a visit to Montreal, Margaret!