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Curatorial’s Pick

You like to discover the works in our collections… and we’re happy to indulge you! Our curators want to share with you their favourites from our collections.

Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk

Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, Curator and Mediator of Inuit Art, invites us to dive into the world of Inuk artist Shuvinai Ashoona.

Lisa Koperqualuk. Photo Yvan Pouliot
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Shuvinai Ashoona, Composition (Monster Eating the World)
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Anne Grace guides us in exploring the beauty in this portrait of Luisa Strozzi, created by Marie Spartali Stillman. This artist was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, a group of British painters who sought to emulate the pictorial truth and grace of early Renaissance art in their works. Before becoming an artist in her own right, Spartali was herself a model.

Anne Grace
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Marie Spartali Stillman, Luisa Strozzi, 1884. MMFA, gift of Henry B. Yates in memory of Edward Maxwell (1867-1923). Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
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Iris Amizlev

Curator of Intercultural Arts

Iris Amizlev discusses American photographer Andreas Feininger’s perspective on the inner structure of creatures and objects, inviting us to contemplate nature’s beauty up close as exemplified in this shell from a sea snail.

Iris Amizlev. Photo MBAM, Christine Guest
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Andreas Feininger, Triumphant Star Shell (Guildfordia triumphans Philippi)
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Laura Vigo

Curator of Asian Art

Laura Vigo expresses her fascination with this “bi” disc, formerly used as currency and today a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture.

Laura Vigo. Photo SPG / Le Pigeon
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Qijia, CHINA, GANSU PROVINCE, ritual disc (“bi”)
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Erell Hubert

Curator of Pre-Columbian Art

Here’s the pick from Erell Hubert. She talks about an artwork from the north coast of Peru, where she had the opportunity to lead archaeological digs in 2018.

The English audio recording follows the French and starts at 0:36.

Erell Hubert. Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière
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Chimú (900-1470), PERU, NORTH COAST double-chambered bottle: moon goddess and animals, earthenware, moulded relief decoration. MMFA, gift of Sybil and David Fleming. Photo MMFA, Jean-François Brière
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Sylvie Lacerte

Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art

“Upon witnessing the total lunar eclipse in September 2015, Martha Townsend experienced an intense feeling of belonging to that which binds all humans of this universe. Her work Belonging is composed of five circular panels of varnished amaranth wood and brushed aluminum laminated onto a wood frame with a plywood base. The aluminum is brushed to give it a texture that emulates the moon’s surface. The five circles depict the ascending and descending phases of the lunar eclipse, also known as the Blood Moon for its colour, or the Harvest Moon due to its occurrence near the autumnal equinox.

In this strange and tumultuous period we are currently living through, Belonging imparts a sense of calm in its universal and timeless quality. It reminds us of the moments of stillness that exist amidst the most turbulent eras of humanity. This wall installation also speaks to me for its majestic solemnity, the techniques used, its colours, materials and impeccable execution, and most particularly for the quiet strength that emanates from it. I think it would be impossible to be untouched by this monumental work, be it for its size or for its evocative power and its beauty, striking in its simplicity.”

Sylvie Lacerte. Photo Jean-François Brière
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Martha Townsend, Belonging, 2016. MMFA, purchase, Ginette Trépanier Bequest and Fund of the Women of Influence Circle. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley
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Mary-Dailey Desmarais,

Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art

“Theo Eshetu’s Atlas Fractured is one of my favourite recent additions to the MMFA collection. In this mesmerizing film installation, Eshetu combines imagery from art history, anthropology, science and religion from across different time periods and cultures.

The result offers an immersive, transhistorical experience that forces us to question the meaning of identity.

Among the elements of Atlas Fractured that I find most captivating is the soundtrack, which features words by philosophers, poets and writers from around the world, including Carl Jung, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Joseph Campbell and Homi Bhabha. For me, some of the most moving verses in the soundtrack come from Maya Angelou’s poem Human Family, the last lines of which read as follows:

We love and lose in China,/ we weep on England’s moors,/ and laugh and moan in Guinea/ and thrive on Spanish shores./ We seek success in Finland,/ are born and die in Maine./ In minor ways we differ,/ in major we‘re the same./ I note the obvious differences/ between each sort and type,/ but we are more alike, my friends,/ than we are unalike.’ … A lesson in love during these troubled times.”

Theo Eshetu, Atlas Fractured (freeze frames), 2017. MMFA, purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest. © Theo Eshetu. Courtesy of the artist and Axis Gallery, New York and New Jersey
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Mary Dailey Desmarais. Photo Stéphanie Badini
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Hilliard T. Goldfarb

Senior Curator – Collections and Curator of Old Masters.

“As many of us find ourselves quarantined or in isolation in our homes or apartments, it is a welcome diversion to recall the modest yet intimate and uplifting joy in life that nature can bring to us. That is the delight of a small, charming print in our collection by the German Romantic printmaker Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, titled A Thicket; a Gnarled Willow Tree at Left, a Thicket of Vegetation at Right. This new acquisition is among his most well-known works. The imagery Kolbe created with the etching needle was based ultimately on his own meditations on his countryside treks near Dessau. This small print rewards close observation and reminds us of the wonders to be found in even the most humble displays of nature.”

Hilliard T. Goldfarb. Photo Éliane Excoffier
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Carl Wilhelm Kolbe (1759-1835), A Thicket; a Gnarled Willow Tree at Left, a Thicket of Vegetation at Right
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Jennifer Laurent

Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts

“Spanish-born designer Nacho Carbonell infuses his work with whimsical fictional elements that appeal to our imagination and inner senses, at once transporting us far from the realm of the everyday and encouraging us to forge a deeper connection with our inner selves. I particularly love this burnished bronze zoomorphic sculpture – a unique work from his series Time is a Treasure. At first glance, it evokes a fantastical pot-bellied creature standing on stilt-like legs, but upon closer inspection we notice it is brought to life by a working clock hidden within its core. Beckoning us to see beyond the superficial, this thoughtful work gives the time only to those who take the trouble to look closer. As such, it incites us to turn our gaze inward and reconnect with our own internal ticking clock.”

Jennifer Laurent. Photo Jean-François Brière
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Nacho Carbonell, Time is a Treasure VIII, from the series Time is a Treasure, 2013. MMFA, purchase, Suzanne Caouette Bequest. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
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Jacques Des Rochers

Curator of Quebec and Canadian Art (before 1945)

He relates the positive effect this painting has on him:

“The peacefulness imparted by this painting of a young girl with her dog on the bank; a magical frozen moment, in which the entire foreground devoted to figures is placed in waiting, in the balance, in suspense, as a sailboat passes by and will soon drift out of the spectator’s visual field, into the very high horizon line in the background!”

Jacques Des Rochers. Photo Vincent Lafrance
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William Brymner, Girl with a Dog
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