Written by Dara Larocque on 24.02.15

While the city is still feeling the winter blues, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is bringing back the sun thanks to their Orientalist exhibition, Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism. This particular period of art from the early 19th century is full of seduction and mystery as artists like Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant take us on a journey to far away Morocco, Spain, the Middle East, and to the harems and countryside scenes that intrigued the early 19th century.

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This collection includes original research from the museum’s curatorial staff and presents an incredible collection of Benjamin-Constant’s work. Thirteen canvases of some of his most memorable works will be on display from January 31st to May 31st, 2015 as well as work from Mariano Fortuny, Georges Clarin, and Jean-Paul Laurens. The MMFA narrates the history of art and art dealings during this pivotal time in art history.

During the early 19th century, the salon was one of the most important places for artists to display their work. As Orientalist artists began hosting buyers in their personal studios instead of the salons amongst their worldly treasures from far away places, the mystery and fantasy of Orientalism was born.

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Especially interesting in this exhibit was the MMFA’s decision to include contemporary Moroccan female artists. Orientalism has been critiqued throughout art history for its depiction of women and Middle Eastern culture. This addition to the exhibition is an arena of exchange between the modern Moroccan artist and Westernized 19th century views of what Middle Eastern art can be.

From the forbidden harems where every desire was within reach to the lush pastoral scenes with the most vivid colors scorching under the Moroccan sun to the contemporary world, the MMFA invites you to step out of the cold and into the luxurious and exotic world of Orientalist artists.

1380 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3G 1J5
(514) 285-2000

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