Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – Of Individuals and Places: Photographs from the Lazare Collection

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Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – Of Individuals and Places – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) invites the public to a contemplation in Of Individuals and Places: Photographs from the Lazare Collection. Bringing together more than 80 photographs by major Canadian and international artists, this exhibition underscores Montreal collector Jack Lazare’s 20-year passion for photography, which he has a desire to share with the public. It is also an opportunity to display a selection of photographs from a group of 33 artworks the collector generously gifted to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2017.

 A businessman specializing in the in the travel and music industries, and a member of the Acquisition Committee – International Art After 1900, Jack Lazare has been building up an outstanding collection of photographs – mainly contemporary – since the 1980s. The show reveals his sensitive eye and a particular love of eloquent images that give us food for thought.

 Some of the images portray real or imaginary, private or anonymous places whose atmosphere and spirit the viewer can’t help but feel: the manufactured or urban landscapes of Edward Burtynsky and Jose Manuel Ballester, the mises-en-scene of Carlos and Jason Sanchez, the interiors of the Canadian Nicolas Baier, the Chinese artist Jiagang Chen and the Danish artist Trine Søndergaard. Those captured by Nicolas Dhervillers, Todd Hido, Astrid Kruse Jensen and Mark Ruwedel depict dreamlike spaces full of mystery, while those of Lee Friedlander, Saul Leiter, Danny Lyon, Sarah Moon, Larry Towell, Albert Watson and Laurence von der Weid tackle the subject of transition.

 A fascinating gallery of portraits taken by Raymonde April, Chuck Close, Willie Doherty, Elliot Erwitt, Pascal Grandmaison, Angela Grauerholz, Patrick Faigenbaum, Isaac Julien, Richard Learoyd, Nelli Palomäki, Alexander Rodchenko and August Sander reveal states of mind. The photographs of Tina Barney, Nan Goldin, Adam Jeppesen, Aino Kannisto, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Hannah Starkey and Thomas Struth evoke in turn the feeling of loneliness and the complexity of human relationships.

 The exhibition also includes a series of 14 albumen prints by the British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1915-1879). Jack Lazare’s discovery of this artist in an exhibition at MoMA in 1999 was what sparked his love of photography. Of Individuals and Places also demonstrates the collector’s interest in socially relevant subjects such as those captured by the photos of Shimon Attie, Katy Grannan, Alex Majoli and Shirin Neshat and those of the American documentary photographers Robert Frank, Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks.

A knowledgeable yet unassuming connoisseur, Jack Lazare presents his collection here. In 2007 we showed some works of his in the exhibition All for Art! In Conversation with Collectors (2007-2008). Ten years later, he donated to the MMFA an outstanding selection of works from his considerably expanded collection. This show is in line with our determination to create a permanent space devoted to photography, to build up a cold storage and augment our programming, explains Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

 A lot of the collection was in my office, and I got great pleasure when people came in and reacted to it. I enjoyed showing it. I felt a sense of obligation to the artists and the public to exhibit their works. Our family has also greatly enjoyed living with these works, and it brings me joy to share them with others, in the hopes they will take equal pleasure in them said Jack Lazare.

 It is a pleasure to work with Jack Lazare, a knowledgeable collector of contemporary photography who along the way has also acquired images of legendary figures of modern American photography. The photos in his collection challenge us with their emotive power and the subjects they confront, which draw us into their universality. We must mention here that Jack’s recent gift of thirty-three works to the MMFA have significantly enriched and diversified our collection of modern and contemporary photographs, states Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts and Photography at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

 A major donation of 33 photographs

The exhibition has been an opportunity to display a selection of works from a donation of 33 photos given to the Museum in 2017 by Jack Lazare and his wife Harriet. A number of internationally famous photographers have thus made their appearance in the collection of a Canadian museum: they include the Italian Paul Ventura, the French artist Jean-Baptiste Huynh, the Swiss duo Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler formed in 1990 in Banff and the German photographer Beate Gütschow, among others. This generous donation from Mr. and Mrs. Lazare has enabled us to expand the Museum’s collection, which now comprises over 2,500 works, with a view to opening a cabinet devoted solely to photography.

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