That’s How the Light Gets In

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Pictures for an Exhibition

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen

The question of light as both subject and material is vast, and compels us to rethink art in its most fundamental aspects. Without light, there is no visibility. An essential condition for our eyes to perceive anything, light quite logically lies at the core of artists’ practices and techniques. The various problems it involves underwent profound changes in the history of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly since the invention of photography. While light in classical painting was mimetic and metaphorical, as a contemporary material light has become an autonomous medium that shapes and alters the materials it touches, strikes or penetrates. Addressing the issues underlying the notion of light also calls for a look at the role of shadow and opacity. The object of reflection and representation, and a condition for the perception of any work, light is a meaningful parameter in the practice of some artists, and one that should be examined.

This portrait of the collection brings together works by Québec and Canadian artists painters, for the most part around a set of questions they were asked: How does light come into your work? How does it infuse your practice? Marie-Claire Blais, Jérôme Bouchard, Olivia Boudreau, Michel Daigneault, Nicolas Lachance, Stéphane La Rue, Rita Letendre, Elizabeth McIntosh, Yann Pocreau, Leopold Plotek, Monique Régimbald-Zeiber, Marc Séguin, Claude Tousignant and Janet Werner all gave thought to these questions. Their responses, which are displayed along the route through the exhibition, provide insight into their highly individual approaches. Making their words a presence in the galleries offers their work new readings that are seldom accessible outside the privileged space of their studios. Documenting the thoughts behind the choices made by practitioners also fulfils the curatorial requirements of a museum of contemporary art. We believe that a loquacious collection, brought to life through the artists’ own words, comes alive for today’s generations and is highly relevant for the history that is being built now.


Pictures for an Exhibition is an evolving cycle of exhibitions based on works from the collection and intended to generate new connections between historical works and recent acquisitions, between the different media and artists of various generations.


The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is grateful to Québec’s Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for a grant provided under its program to support permanent exhibitions, which has made this project possible.

Additional information

Hours and admission
Curator(s)
Marie-Eve Beaupré, Curator of the collection
Partner(s)
  • logo-ubisoft
  • logo-loto-quebec-gris

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