MODERNIST ART IN MONTREAL
One evening while in Montreal, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts. It was open later than usual, and I only had access to one art exhibit, 1920’s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group. Normally when visiting museums, I feel pressure (self imposed) to visit many exhibits, and ultimately I come away with a less memorable experience. It was nice to only focus on one group of artists, linger in the rooms, and not feel rushed.
The exhibit focused on a group of artists called the Beaver Hall Group who formed briefly in Montreal during the 1920’s. I was surprised to learn that the group included women among their ranks, progressive at the time. If their inclusion of women sparked an interest in me, then their bold use of color had me hooked. Shortly after returning from the trip I chopped off my hair and designed this room, which was featured last week. When putting together this post I noticed the likely scenario that the Beaver Hall Group inspired my new look and color choices.
PORTRAITS of WOMEN
The first painting to suck me in was the portrait shown in the cover photo above. It was painted by a female artist of a fellow artist, and it’s my favorite of the show. The color blocking of the rich green against her angular hair and clothes makes her face and neck illuminated. You are immediately drawn to her eyes, piercing behind dark circles and heavy lids.
Portraits were the bulk of the pieces showcased, and the work that I was drawn to the most. Below are a few of my favorite portraits of women, but some of the men on display were equally interesting. The washes of bright color set the stage for the women featured and give the subject a sculptural quality. Funnily enough, the dark haired girl dressed in black framed by that brilliant blue (bottom center) is Ludevine Landry. I'm pretty sure she's a distant cousin.
Unfortunately sourcing images of landscapes by the Beaver Hall Group was no easy feat, so I only have three to share. All of these were painted by Anne Savage. The beautiful Canadian countryside inspired lovely lyrical paintings by many of the group's artists. These photos don’t do them any justice. In person, the river in the middle landscape glowed between the green banks and had a subtle shift in color.
If their bold color choices and style of painting weren’t enough, the group pushed the envelope with nudes as well. Their were a few life size paintings on display depicting muscular, tanned nudes wearing makeup, which bucked the traditional image of the nude female form. They were also known to paint the subject in a state of undress (shown wearing shoes with clothes draped on furniture) which would have pushed boundaries and buttons in the 1920’s.
I left the Beaver Hall Group exhibition feeling inspired, energized, and with a tome defining each piece in the collection. Now I can revisit these pieces in the comfort of my home whenever I need a little jolt of color