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Published on June 16, 2020

Leo Rosshandler dies (1922-2020)

Leo Rosshandler, about 1970, Deputy director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from 1968 to 1976

It is with great sadness that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) learned of the death of Leo Rosshandler, an erudite and generous man, who devoted his life to the arts. Born in Amsterdam in 1922, he moved to Mexico in the 1940s, where he studied visual arts at La Esmeralda, the national school for painting, sculpture and printmaking. He would continue to paint and nurture a special connection to Mexico throughout his life. In fact, several of his paintings were exhibited at the gallery Espacio Mexico in 2017. The MMFA owes Rosshandler a debt of gratitude for the presence of early Mesoamerican art in its collection. As Curator and Assistant Director of the institution, from 1968 to 1976 he realized numerous acquisitions and organized the first Canadian exhibition dedicated to Pre-Classical Mexican art (1500 B.C.E. – 250 C.E.), titled Man-Eaters and Pretty Ladies. Himself a collector, he donated over 125 works to the Museum, including some wonderful statuettes from Veracruz. Rosshandler also played an integral role in the Quebec and Canadian contemporary art scene in his capacities as manager of the Lavalin collection (from 1977 until its transfer to the Musée d’art contemporain in 1989), exhibition curator, and the author of many articles. Always eager to share his knowledge and love of art, Leo Rosshandler leaves an indelible legacy in Montreal’s artistic landscape.

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