Exposing progressive

Une mise à nu progressive

Photo: MMFA, gift of Jori Smith
“Female nude lying”), Jori Smith (1907-2005), circa 1950

An infinite Source of inspiration, in life as in art, the body is also the object of all the censorship. By visiting the exhibition The model in the workshop, Montreal, 1880-1950, at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, we discover to what extent the Quebec of that time was timid in front of his representations.

At the Société des arts of Montreal, called the Art Association — the predecessor of the MUSEUM of today — women who were studying art were to simply draw or paint female models draped, or men in sex hidden, unlike their male counterparts.

“The women were expected to follow the academic training as the men, but they did not have access to the bare full,” said Jacques Des Rochers, curator of quebec and canadian art before 1945 for the Museum, which presents the exhibition.

Indeed, it was only in 1922 that the Museum houses in its collection his first picture of a naked academic. This isEve, Wyatt Eaton. Ten years later, the Museum received as a gift his first bare, ” modern “, Scenes of workshop number 2, the rest period, the painter’s jewish Ernst Neumann. And in 1947, the painter Louis Muhlstock denounces, in the magazine Art Forum, the censorship of a portrait of a woman of Bonnard in a reprint montreal of the journal Crossroads. The chest of the model is intentionally blurred in a white band. In 1947, a year before the publication of the refus global manifesto, Muhlstock wrote an article entitled ” Year in excess of prudery ” in which he ” railed against the lack of artistic freedom “.

Securities that could

Several of the artworks exhibited today have been recently acquired by the MMFA. Among them is also an art book of John Chauvin, who was found in the library of the collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, in which paintings of nudes, including signed Aurèle de Foy Suzor-coté, have been censored on the hand.

“This book on the montreal workshops had been criticized at the time by some people, because there were a lot of nudes. It is still in 1928 “, says Jacques Of the Rocks. “The censorship was everywhere in Canada,” he adds.


Une mise à nu progressive

Photo: MMFA, gift of Paul Marshall in memory of the artist
“Female nude asleep”, Louis Muhlstock, 1940

To achieve to expose his bare, Suzor-Côté named her tables in a roundabout way. “A lot of artists responded to the censorship with titles that could,” continues Jacques Des Rochers. From the 1920s, there was both liberation, criticism and censorship. “

The sculptures, each of Louis-Philippe Hébert and Henri Hébert, father and son, speak for themselves of the generation gap. Flower of the woods, signed Louis-Philippe Hébert, depicts a young aboriginal woman fantasy, sculpted without a model in 1897. Performed 30 years later by his son Henri Hébert, sculpture, Flapper puts in scene Cécile Perron, nude model with short hair and the pose modern.

Other taboos

Some works have been criticized for other reasons than the nudity of the models. The painter Prudence Heward, of which we see some of the drawings in the exhibition, has been criticized for its representation of black women naked in exotic landscapes. “Heward has not achieved a single table of a white woman naked in the nature, we learn. In these shop drawings, devoid of the artifices, the reserve of black women distinguishes them from other more provocative without a face. “

Later, we will see sketches of John Lyman, who served in the composition of the work distress, before 1938. This work would be, according to Jacques Des Rochers, the first canadian work representing female homosexuality.

To its sides, it also presents the female Nude to the bottom, as painted by the painter Jori Smith in the 1930s. At the same time, the Nu in the workshop, the artist Lilias Torrance Newton, was shocked by its depiction of a woman in high-heels, painted toenails, which were visible very clearly the pubic hair.

It is with works by Louis Archambault, introducing abstract forms of nudes, as the overview of the era ends. As a culmination, the Museum presents a contemporary work of art, a photo of Donigan Cumming on which we see an elderly couple, where the man and the woman are naked.


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