The Journey Begins Once Upon a Time… The Western
“We do not want people to leave this exhibition with the same image of the subject that they come in with,” Mary-Dailey Desmarais, curator of the major historical exhibition, Once upon a time… The Western at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA).
Discover a vast array of visual art, from the mid-19th century to the present day, around excerpts from classic western films, making connections that take something which we thought were second nature to us and turns them into something completely new. It celebrates the beauty of the Western while revealing some darker periods in history.
The exhibit tackles certain prejudices against the peoples of the First Nations that it helped to perpetuate, and explores themes related to questions that are still current today, such as violence, the stereotypical representation of the sexes, interracial relationships, and the acceptance of difference. It shows the extent to which art has the power to both maintain and challenge the most widespread beliefs.
“The first major multidisciplinary exhibition on the myths and stereotypes associated with the genre of the Western film from the nineteenth century to today”
Furthermore, the major multidisciplinary display of artwork offers a new interpretation of the Western film genre by examining its links to the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography) from the middle of the nineteenth century to today. It studies the creation, transmission, and transformation of the Western myth in North America, in the United States and Canada.
In this new frontier over 400 paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, artifacts, film stills, and excerpts show how the genre has evolved through ongoing dialogue between the fine arts and cinema.
5 Milestones of the New Frontier
Beyond Redemption – Adrian Stimson’s haunting installation, comprising a stuffed buffalo encircled by bison skins draped over crosses
Stagecoach – a thing of beauty featured in the Presidential inauguration parade of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953)
Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein & Andy Warhol – abstract expressionists, and other decidedly non-traditionalist figures like pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, are among the show’s most compelling cases of new ground being struck and best left to the viewer to garner bit by bit
Quebec westerns – Relatively unknown sub-genre film productions in Quebec in the 1970s, with singing cowboy Willie Lamothe a particular star
Motorcycle – the very chopper used in Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider
Check out this retrospective video on the exhibit!
Read more on Impressionism Unplugged at the MMFA.
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