Written by Ania Szneps on 08.06.17

It’s hard to bring works by renown artists to life, to try to reinterpret whatever fantastical world a writer, musician, or painter may have created and make it into something that is tangible and can be experienced by more than just a single sense at a time. Yet on the evening of Thursday, June 1st, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts managed to accomplish just that. The event was the Young Philanthropists’ Circle’s final D-Vernissage of the season, and they couldn’t have chosen a more memorable, but challenging, exhibition to celebrate.

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Founded in 2012, the Young Philanthropists’ Circle of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts brings together more than 500 young professionals who love culture and philanthropy, and allows them the opportunity to attend various cultural events throughout the year. The profits generated by the Circle contribute to the MMFA’s contemporary art programme, which funds the exhibitions and the acquisitioning of works of art.

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Marc Chagall’s works are often themselves interpretations of known literature, music, folklore, or performances, and his creations suggest the wonder and child-like innocence the story’s intended audiences would experience and demonstrate. But the artist’s skill and self-expression weren’t solely confined to painting; the exhibition featured several costumes from various ballets and performances Chagall designed and executed. These masterpieces each had an element of mischief and grace, something that was reflected by the real-life performers who were present throughout the evening’s event.

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Guests first got a taste of what was in store for them right at the entrance of the party where, nestled between the exhibition’s door and the party area, was a photo studio that was set up to allow patrons to have the opportunity to have their photos taken with a whole troupe of circus performers – from a bearded lady, to ballerinas and acrobats.

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The evening was a constant mix of high-brow art (ballerinas dancing to a live and transient violinist) and silly performances (a juggler who somehow always seemed to need the assistance of some beautiful woman), with some performers providing comedic relief while others reflected the types of shows in which Chagall himself played key roles. Guests further had the opportunity to view the exhibition at their own leisure (and with a far smaller crowd), which provided all with the wonderful opportunity to learn more about this venerated artist while also experiencing the light-hearted quality found in most of his works in a new and imaginative way.

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Ultimately, the evening proved to be a great success, as it married the educational with the frivolous – a wonderful introduction or re-introduction to such a well-respected man and creator.

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If you want more information about the Young Philanthropists’ Circle, visit their website here.

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You can check out the Museum’s upcoming exhibitions here. The Chagall exhibit is on until June 13th.

Photos courtesy of the MMFA.

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