Exhibition - Arnaud Maggs: Nomenclature at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal - February 8 to April 20, 2008

    MONTREAL, Jan. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Arnaud Maggs is among Canada's greatest
photo-based conceptual artists, according to Marc Mayer, director of the
Musée. The Musée d'art contemporain presents Arnaud Maggs: Nomenclature from
February 8 to April 20, 2008.

    Arnaud Maggs

    Now eighty, Montréal-born Arnaud Maggs has been in the forefront of
Canadian conceptual photography for over four decades. Following an early
career as a graphic designer and then as a fashion photographer until the
mid-1970s, he became a visual artist, and carved out a reputation for his
series of conceptually fuelled black-and-white portraits systematically taken
from the front, side and back, and presented in grid formation. After years
spent revolutionizing portrait art and creating a fascinating iconography out
of abstract details, Maggs then began to focus on the notion of collective
memory and examine the way society relates to the past.


    This exhibition carries on from the artist's previous work, offering a
kind of "visual library" made up of large-format illustrations reminiscent of
official portraits in scale. Nomenclature presents two of his recent
photographic series: Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, 2005, and Cercles
chromatiques de M. E. Chevreul, 2006, the titles of which are taken from two
esoteric reference works on the language of colour.
    Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, which lends its name to the exhibition,
comprises thirteen photographs that Maggs took of the pages in a book of the
same name. Published in 1814 by Patrick Syme, a Scottish floral painter, this
book is actually an adaptation of mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner's
original 1774 work, expanded to include the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The
nomenclature in question is thus an extension and re-interpretation of a
colour system. As Mark Lanctôt, the curator in charge of the Montréal
presentation, observes, "Maggs draws our attention to the changing nature of
'objective' observation over time and the impossibility of ever truly
exhaustively organizing such fleeting phenomena as colour in nature."
    The series Cercles chromatiques de M. E. Chevreul refers to the work of
French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889), who offered artists a
"scientific" approach to colour combinations in a work entitled Les lois du
contraste simultané des couleurs published in 1839. His theories captured the
attention of such painters as Ingres, Delacroix, Signac and the
post-Impressionists. Maggs has chosen to photograph not the colour plates
illustrating simultaneous contrasts of colours, but rather those that
accompanied a later study which was less interested in how colour is used than
how it is defined and indexed-an issue closer to Maggs' concerns. The series
of chromatic circles consists of eleven gradually darkened photographs that
represent, in the artist's words, "the passage from day to night, from
positive to negative, from life to death."
    Nomenclature is essentially a photographic essay on the human desire to
list and categorize all natural phenomena. Maggs examines our subjectivity
with respect to nature and the limits of science.
    The exhibition Arnaud Maggs: Nomenclature was organized by The Robert
McLaughlin Gallery, in Oshawa, Ontario, where it was first presented in 2006.
It was curated by Linda Jansma, curator at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The
exhibition subsequently travelled to the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, and
Gallery One One One, Winnipeg, in 2007, before coming to Montréal. This is the
artist's first solo exhibition at the Musée d'art contemporain. The museum's
collection includes the 1980 work Joseph Beuys: 100 Frontal Views, Dusseldorf,
21.10.80, which was presented in 1992 as part of Tableau inaugural, and then
in the exhibition Autour de la mémoire et de l'archive in 1999-2000, and again
last year in the exhibition The Collection.

    Arnaud Maggs lives and works in Toronto. He is represented by the Susan
Hobbs Gallery, Toronto. Since 1978, he has been the subject of numerous
retrospectives, solo exhibitions and group shows across the country and around
the world. He has garnered a number of prestigious awards over the years: the
Canada Council's Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award in 1984, the Gershon
Iskowitz Prize in 1991, the Toronto Arts Award in 1992 and, the 2006 Governor
General's Award in Visual and Media Arts for his overall body of work.


    An 85-page catalogue entitled Arnaud Maggs: Nomenclature accompanies the
exhibition. A joint publication of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Gallery One
One One and the McMaster Museum of Art, it contains essays by curator Linda
Jansma and art historian Martha Langford, a list of works, a biobibliography
and colour plates of all the works. The catalogue may be purchased at the
museum's Olivieri Bookstore or from your local bookseller.

    The Musée d'art contemporain is a provincially owned corporation funded
by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine
du Québec. It receives additional funding from the Department of Canadian
Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts.
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For further information:

For further information: Danielle Legentil, Public Relations
Coordinator,(514) 847-6232, danielle.legentil@macm.org; Visual material
available: www.macm.org, Newsroom, Link: Visual material, User name: presse,
Password: Borduas

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