Let’s be clear. I’m not much of an artist, though sometimes I like to pretend like I could be. I’ve never taken a class on art appreciation, or creating art in general. I’m woefully illiterate when it comes to art movements. I can’t tell an expressionist painting from a romantic painting from an impressionist painting.
But it doesn’t take a genius to see that Van Gogh was really good at painting.
A few weeks ago, I finally had an excuse to go to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), a place I’ve heard great things about but have never seen with my own eyes. One brief metro ride and another brief walk later, I found it. I took pictures from across the street in anticipation of seeing the inside of such a gorgeous little castle. The statue outside was incredible; an intricate, metallic angel with a hole in the center of its chest, and I ran to it to take pictures to capture its size and the artist’s attention to detail. I was so glad to finally be there! Except… Oh, whoops. That’s not the main building.
I turned around and was really awestruck, this time. Gorgeous, huge, and modern, the Musée des Beaux-Arts stood before me. The inside was absolutely saturated with artistic warmth. From the replicas of famous works strewn about the lobby to the well-dressed staff, from the not-just-for-kids kids’ section to the tastefully laid out gift shop, from the colossal banner advertising Van Gogh’s works to the very structure of the building itself, I could feel the vibrations of creative energy in this place bouncing off of each other, off of the walls, and off of me. I couldn’t tell how many stories tall the building was because something about the architecture made it feel like it went on forever in all directions, but I knew I wanted to see as much of the place as I could. Even a cursory glance around made it clear that I wouldn’t have enough time even in one full weekend to see nearly everything I wanted to see, and I only had three hours to spare. I decided to make the most of it, and bought myself a ticket to the special exhibition they have on display right now: Van Gogh to Kandinsky.
I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to take pictures, so I decided not to out of caution. It’s not that I was worried they would kick me out or anything, but in a place like this, where I could just smell the classiness in the air around me, committing any kind of faux pas felt like the most terrible crime I could be capable of committing. Imagining even one person throwing me a disapproving glance felt like dying of embarrassment. So I opted to just keep my head down and enjoy the art.
And boy, did I ever enjoy the art! I spent the full three hours taking in countless masterworks in expressionism, impressionism, and cubism. I feel in love with paintings more times than I can count. It was an amazing education in art history. As far as I’m concerned, this museum is a required visit for anyone who comes to Montreal. That means, if you enter the city limits of Montreal and you have yet to go to this museum, you absolutely must. You owe it to yourself. If you’re desperate to see this exhibition, you have to get here by January 25. It’s just $12 for the exhibition, and the rest of the museum is free for people under the age of 31.