The revo­lu­tion­ary 1960s at the Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts

Montreal Times - - News -

For some peo­ple—I should ad­mit, my­self in­cluded—they were the great­est of all times. The Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts de­cided to pay trib­ute to the 1960s with a very com­pre­hen­sive ex­hi­bi­tion which, very ap­pro­pri­ately, is ti­tled "Revo­lu­tion" af­ter the homonym song by John Len­non. In­deed, those were revo­lu­tion­ary years not only in the po­lit­i­cal sense but also in the whole ex­is­ten­tial con­cept of life: from cloth­ing to mu­sic, to sex­ual at­ti­tudes. It was also a re­sponse on the part of the youth of that pe­riod, to the pre­vi­ous decade, marked—in North Amer­ica at least— by sub­ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, con­sumerism, and con­form­ity. The young didn't want any of that, so they re­belled. The ex­hi­bi­tion cov­ers all of that in a very ex­ten­sive and di­verse way. Al­though many works by artists of that pe­riod are on dis­play, I would say that that is not the main point of the show, and in those days that was not the point ei­ther. In­stead, what you will find are the uni­forms worn by The Bea­tles on the cover of their iconic record "Sgt. Pep­per's Lonely Hearts Club Band," some of the dresses that marked the fash­ion of the 1960s, and even a replica of one of the uni­forms used by the Black Pan­thers revo­lu­tion­ary group.

The poster was a very im­por­tant means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and there­fore, one can find many of them on dis­play, from po­lit­i­cal ones in par­tic­u­lar against the Viet­nam War to oth­ers de­liv­er­ing a com­mer­cial mes­sage.This decade is also a pe­riod that in­tro­duced sub­stan­tial changes in both, graphic and industrial de­sign.

An­other very sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ment of this ex­hi­bi­tion is its musical con­text. Mu­sic by the great bands of that time,The Bea­tles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, pro­vides an emo­tional and nos­tal­gic back­ground to the ex­hibit: in fact, the mu­sic is an in­te­gral part of the show. Prob­a­bly the sec­tion where the drums of The Who oc­cupy cen­tre stage while on the screen scenes from "Wood­stock" are shown is one of the high­lights of the whole event. Af­ter all th­ese years one still find very mov­ing the shot with Jimi Hen­drix's ren­di­tion of the U.S. na­tional an­them in which the notes re­sem­ble the Amer­i­can bomb­ing of Viet­namese vil­lages.

Po­lit­i­cally those were hot years: in Paris and other French cities, the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Charles de Gaulle al­most fell af­ter strong protests staged by stu­dents and work­ers. In Latin Amer­ica, guer­rilla war­fare ex­tended through many coun­tries and leg­endary Che Gue­vara, killed in Bo­livia in 1967 be­came an iconic fig­ure for young peo­ple every­where. Que­bec was not ex­empt from the revo­lu­tion­ary at­mos­phere that ex­tended through­out the world: the Quiet Revo­lu­tion took place at that time too, but there were also the vi­o­lent ac­tions of the FLQ which would cul­mi­nate un­leash­ing the Oc­to­ber Cri­sis in 1970.

The 1960s are also the years when a sig­nif­i­cant phe­nom­e­non that would have a pro­found so­cial im­pact was al­ready in its em­bry­onic state: the com­puter age.The ex­hibit also in­cludes the first—of course very rudi­men­tary—Ap­ple com­puter.

"Revo­lu­tion" also presents a few movies that are very rep­re­sen­ta­tive of that pe­riod; I es­pe­cially rec­om­mend "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Stan­ley Kubrick (in English with French sub­ti­tles, June 28, 6 p.m.). "Blow-Up" by Michelan­gelo An­to­nioni (in English, July 12, 6 p.m.), "Bar­barella" by Roger Vadim (in French, July 19, 6 p.m.), and "Easy Rider" by Den­nis Hop­per (English with French sub­ti­tles, Au­gust 2, 6 p.m.).All th­ese shows are at the Maxwell Cum­mings Au­di­to­rium, 1379-A Sher­brooke West.

For more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion visit the MMFA web­site:


The first Ap­ple com­puter

"The Sound is WOR-FM 98.7 (de­tail) by Mil­ton Glaser (photo MMFA,Christine Guest)

The uni­forms worn by The Bea­tles on the cover of "Sgt. Pep­per's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

There is a revo­lu­tion in de­sign too

A time for revo­lu­tion

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