Where art meets food: New exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – When we eat, we usually don’t take much notice of the utensils or the plates where our food is being served or prepared. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts wants us to pay a little more attention to these implements. Moreover, it wants us to think of them not only as the practical things they are but also as objects of beauty.
The recently-open exhibition “Bon Appétit! Contemporary Foodware Designs in Quebec” attempts to bring our focus also on “the tools and equipment used for preparing, cooking, and keeping food — industrial and artisanal objects that are always attractive.”
It is certainly an interesting proposition, not exempt from a debate. In art theory courses one of the big discussions was precisely about what constitutes art. And for some theoreticians, art could not be utilitarian. Neither a painting nor a piece of sculpture fulfil any useful purpose. The debate on the connection between the “beautiful” and “the useful” (understood as something that is good for a certain function) is old. In Plato’s dialogue “Hippias” we find Socrates refuting the sophist Hippias on his assertions that beauty and functionality are connected: “who is to say whether a wooden spoon or a golden spoon would be better to stir with, or which would be more beautiful?”
We are not going to find golden spoons at this exhibition, but certainly, we may be confronted with the old question about whether beauty may be present in ordinary, utilitarian objects. The exhibition presents contemporary works created by Quebec designers, among them Mario Gagnon, Sébastien Duchange, Loïc Bard, and many others.
The exhibition was curated by Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Photography, under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA. During the opening, Ms. Charbonneau says: “Fashioned by hand by woodworkers or produced within small craft-based firms, a number of these pieces —wooden tools, fine china, articles made from textiles or recycled paper, glass or ceramic cookware—appeal to the sense of touch. The exhibition pays tribute to several generations of designers, from established masters to those now coming to the fore, who, thanks to their expertise, give meaning to such utilitarian objects and promote a better way of living.”
The exhibition is presented at the Design Lab, located in the Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion, 2nd Level (3410 Ave. du Musée), right behind the Museum’s original building. It will remain open until March 2019. For detailed information about opening hours and tickets, visit www.mbam.qc.ca/en