Welcome to Montreart

10/04/2019
  • Magazine

No matter where you are in Montreal, you’re never more than a few steps away from a work of art. Of course you’ll find some in all of the city’s art galleries and museums, but you’ll also catch awesome pieces in downtown restaurants, hotels, metro stations, and government buildings. 

Thanks to the provincial government’s art policy, some 3,500 works have been incorporated into public spaces all across Quebec. And more than a third of Montreal’s public oeuvre is beautifying our city courtesy of this wonderful initiative.

Vital to life . . .

Many healthcare institutions benefit from this art program, including the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, commonly referred to as CHUM. Inaugurated in 2017, CHUM is the largest hospital in Quebec and has been the recipient of many architectural awards. In fact, the centre is one of the most beautiful examples of art-integrated architecture. One such artwork is La vie en montagne, created by Mathieu Doyon and Simon Rivest. The piece depicts stunning mountain summits etched in glass across eight stories of the building’s façade, and it is truly breathtaking. There is also a piece by Klaus Scherübel called L’artiste au travail. This remarkable installation features a human silhouette sitting in front of an undulating metal surface.

For now, the hospital is home to 14 permanent pieces, with 3 more slated to arrive shortly. However, even without these three new arrivals, CHUM already houses the largest concentration of public art in Montreal since Expo 67. Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine—the largest mother and child centre in Canada—follows close behind with 20 or so pieces of art, a dozen of which are part of an integration program. Among them: Le Soleil de nuit (a 7.7 m x 9 m skylight), Cirque du soleil (a series of pictures on the building’s windows), and Dans l’œil de ce monde (a totem on which are engraved 600 names of children who were treated at the pavillon Charles-Bruneau).

And vital to the city!

Art adorns not only our medical centres, but also our downtown business district. Take Maison Manuvie, for example. Owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge and Manuvie, this complex is home to the Colorimeter, an imposing and spectacular canvas that sits in the building’s grand hall. The interactive art installation features 500 coloured panels and 30,294 bulbs that are activated by the hues captured by a camera. A yellow jacket, a red hat, a blue handbag . . . the colours picked up by the lobby camera are transmitted to the panels, which then extract them and highlight them on the wall. Ivanhoé Cambridge is committed to enhancing our downtown buildings with artwork. However, not all of their pieces are government funded. For Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate arm of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, it’s about fulfilling a social responsibility and creating living spaces, regardless of whether or not it’s a government building.

1000 De La Gauchetière, the Jacques-Parizeau building, and Place Ville-Marie are some of the Montreal edifices that have already greatly benefitted from this initiative. The Autoportrait installation—soon to be displayed in the Esplanade de la Place Ville-Marie—will most definitely be worth the trip! Ivanhoé Cambridge, in collaboration with Sid Lee Architecture and MASSIVart Collection, have also presented Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth with 123 new pieces of art, including a floral-and-white-rose print which now hangs in the iconic room 1742, where Yoko Ono and John Lennon staged their bed-in for peace. Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Montreal collection includes a total of 300 works, 90% of which are created by Quebec or Canadian artists. 

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