Montréal, January 15, 2020 – In winter and spring 2020, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) has proudly chosen to put the spotlight on its collection and the diversity of works it contains in exhibitions presenting major pieces that have never been shown to the public since they were acquired. Visitors will now be able to delve into Québec and Canadian painting of the 1980s with Painting Nature with a Mirror (until March 15). In addition, the MAC’s director and chief curator, John Zeppetelli, has curated an exhibition of video works from the collection: Points of Light (until June 14), presenting work by world-renowned artists, including Hito Steyerl, Nelson Henricks and Jean-Luc Godard.

At the same time, the MAC is honoured to present a striking artwork-event by artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa – recipient of the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale – Love is the Message, the Message is Death (2016) (until March 1). Many in the art and film worlds consider this work to be one of the most important of the last decade.

Later in the spring, the MAC offers visitors a chance to experience a major new acquisition in its collection, the three-dimensional immersive video work Nightlife (March 2019) by award-winning artist Cyprien Gaillard, as well as two imposing works by American artist Edgar Arceneaux (April 9 to June 14).

“I’m very happy and proud to offer our visitors programming that brings together internationally renowned contemporary artists and important unusual works by Québec and Canadian artists that showcase the wealth and depth of the MAC’s collection’’ noted Mr Zeppetelli.

The Museum’s transformation project, which was delayed last winter, is still underway. News on this subject will be provided as it becomes available. In the meantime, the MAC continues its activities in its current site on St. Catherine Street throughout 2020.

The program in detail

Winter 2020

Points of Light
Until June 14, 2020
Curator : John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator

Points of Light brings together six works spanning almost forty years of moving image art, attesting to the range and depth of the Musée’s video collection. The selection explores the interplay between the evolving properties of the medium and the conceptual, social or psychological content of the works – between tiny pixels of light and vast zones of aesthetic and intellectual illumination. Therefore, visitors will have an opportunity to experience various forms of video art, ranging from Liquidity, Inc. (2014), a saga by German artist Hito Steyerl on finance, combat, and water, presented in an environment in which visitors may sit on a structure resembling a gigantic wave, to Scénario du film Passion (1982), in which Jean-Luc Godard revisits the writing of the screenplay for his movie Passion, revealing the inner workings of his creative process.

Artists: Jean-Luc Godard, Nelson Henricks, Gary Hill, Christian Marclay, Angelica Mesiti, Hito Steyerl.

Painting Nature with a Mirror
Until March 15, 2020
Curator: Mark Lanctôt, Curator

This portrait of 1980s painting in Canada showcases twenty or so paintings and drawings from the collection of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, more than half on display here for the first time since they were acquired. The 1980s saw the return of a style of painting that, rather than attempting to follow the course of modernist abstraction inherited from the mid-century avant-gardes, adopted a sometimes disconcerting heterogeneity: figuration and abstraction were employed simultaneously and aesthetic explorations were marked by diversity, but above all by a desire to be free of the previous generation of artists’ conceptual rigour. L’exposition propose une réflexion et un rapprochement avec l’actualité artistique. Beyond stylistic references, why do the pictorial aesthetics developed in the 1980s resonate with a younger generation of artists? What is it about the zeitgeist of today that draws us back to the works gathered here?

This exhibition is presented as part of the series Pictures for an Exhibition.

Artists: Sylvie Bouchard, Joseph Branco, Gathie Falk, Betty Goodwin, Kathleen Graham, John Heward, Robert Houle, Lynn Hughes, Harold Klunder, Wanda Koop, Medrie MacPhee, Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe, Sandra Meigs, Ron Moppett, François Morelli, Leopold Plotek, Leslie Reid, Susan G. Scott, Joanne Tod, Carol Wainio, Shirley Wiitasalo.

Arthur Jafa: Love is the Message, the Message is Death
Until March 1st, 2020
Curator: Lesley Johnstone, Curator and Head of Exhibitions and Education

First presented in New York just after the U.S. election of November 2016, Love is the Message, the Message is Death had an immediate and explosive effect. The work, which New Yorker magazine called a « crucial ode to black America » that « is required viewing », shows a rapid-fire montage of images from a mesmerizing range of sources set. It oscillates between scenes of untenable violence and images of ordinary black life as well as iconic clips of such figures as Barack Obama, Nina Simone and Serena Williams, among many others, to Kanye West’s hip-hop song Ultralight Beam.

At once a celebration of black creativity and excellence, and a depiction of the violence of the state, this immersive projection presents powerful and devastating manifestations of physical restraint and liberation, adapting for the screen the complexity of the Afro-American music experimentation.

Upcoming Exhibitions in Spring 2020

Cyprien Gaillard: Nightlife
March 2019
Curator: Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator of the Collection

« Since my teens, I wanted to choreograph a ballet without humans, » Cyprien Gaillard has said about Nightlife, a stunningly beautiful and highly sensuous video work, shot entirely at night with 3D technology over a two-year period. This new acquisition for the MAC’s collection is a major production that addresses themes dear to Gaillard, including cultural cohabitation, revolution, preservation, and entropy. A wide range of subjects are woven together to form the poetic, historical, and narrative thread: Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker at the Cleveland Museum of Art, partially destroyed during a protest bombing in 1970; the luxuriant vegetation of the Los Angeles Basin; an annual fireworks event organized at the Berlin Olympiastadion; and the oak tree planted in memory of Jesse Owens at the Cleveland high school that the internationally celebrated American athlete attended.

Edgar Arceneaux
April 9 to June 14, 2020
Curator: Lesley Johnstone, Curator and Head of Exhibitions and Education

In an age of heightened sensibilities, when questions of cultural appropriation are hotly debated and instances of blackface have been repeatedly in the news in Québec as well as in the rest of the world, Edgar Arceneaux’s work is of unprecedented relevance. The MAC is presenting two works by the artist: Until, until, until (2015-2017) is a the video installation that unpacks a particularly complex episode in recent American history, the controversial performance by singer, dancer, and actor Ben Vereen, a Broadway legend, at Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration gala (1981). Arceneaux has re-created this performance in its entirety, provoking thought about the power of the media to influence opinion and about the consequences that a serious miscomprehension of an artist’s work might have. The Library of Black Lies (2016) is composed of a wooden shack whose labyrinthine interior contains mylar-backed shelving filled with books that appear to have been burnt or encrusted with sugar The work is a voyage into the artist’s mind as he retraces, both humorously and critically, his intellectual and artistic path.


The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is a provincially owned corporation funded by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec. It receives additional funding from the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal makes today’s art a vital part of Montréal and Québec life. For more than fifty years, this vibrant museum has brought together local and international artists, their works and an ever-growing public. It is also a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring. The MAC presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists who provide their own particular insight into our society, as well as exhibitions of works drawn from the museum’s extensive collection. These may feature any and every form of expression: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more. In addition to its wide range of educational activities familiarizing the general public with contemporary art, the MAC organizes unique artistic performances and festive events. It is a window onto a myriad of avant-garde expressions that extend the reach of art throughout the city and beyond.

Source and Information

Anne Dongois
T. 514 826-2050
[email protected]