Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MMFA 2015: Orientalism

From Spain to Morocco
Benjamin‐Constant in His Time

January 31 - May 31, 2015

In a few days, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will open its new exhibition. It will offer to visitors a very exotic experience, a travel into the past when the Oriental style and subject matter were fashionable in the European art. Undoubtedly, what drew the painters to depict oriental topics were the richness of colours, the variety of the ornamental designs and themes, the lushness of clothing and decoration, as well as the pure exoticism they could so freely portray in their works. All of these oriental elements could be seen in an enormous and most striking painting that greets visitors at the top of the staircase leading to the exhibition's entrance. The photo of that painting is just below. It depicts the interior of a harem in Morocco, and it was painted by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant.

The exhibition mainly focuses on the works of Benjamin-Constant, but it also covers the general trends of the Orientalism style, also presenting works of other artists. Just below, to the left, you can see the bronze bust of Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant framed by a rich oriental carpet. To the right, an exotic rug frames an oriental-looking salt-glazed stoneware vessel. Hover your mouse over the photos for more information and the names of the artists.

This exhibition also offers a number of magnificent portraits. That of a Moor below, to the right, is by Benjamin-Constant. Note the man's fearless and straight gaze. Also notice the free-stroke manner in which his head-piece and the white textile flowing to his shoulders is painted. It almost reminds one of the expressionist's style of painting.

In the middle of a cold Canadian winter, the whiff of the colourful southern exoticism is well appreciated. Do not hesitate to visit this exhibition. It will widen your window of knowledge of this unique chapter of art history

The exhibition is also accompanied by a catalogue available at the museum's store.

Click on any image to enlarge it.
Hover your mouse over images to see credits.

For more information, visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts's website.

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