Sailboats, A Poetic Installation by Collectif Escargo on Du Musée Ave.

Collectif Escargo (formed in 2015), Sailboats, 2020, painted plywood planters and benches, acrylic paint on the ground, plants (Argentinian vervain, chives, globe amaranths, salvia farinacea).

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) presents Sailboats, created by Collectif Escargo on Du Musée Avenue, a pedestrian zone that will welcome visitors and passers by throughout the summer.

A relaxation area bordered by the MMFA's Sculpture Garden, this ephemeral installation echoes the major exhibition Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants, on view until November 15, 2020.

Every year since 2013, the MMFA has called upon a Montreal creator to design an art installation for Du Musée Avenue, a portion of which, north of Sherbrooke Street West, is closed to traffic during the summer months. Following the work of Claude Cormier, Jean Verville Architecte and Provencher_Roy, Collectif Escargo, composed of Julie Parenteau, Karyna St-Pierre and Pierre-Yves Diehl, was mandated to re-enchant this public space in the heart of the Golden Square Mile.

Sailboats: an ephemeral work in homage to Post-Impressionist painters

By juxtaposing touches of colour on the ground, the installation Sailboats evokes the shimmering of the sea, often depicted in the canvases of Paul Signac (1863-1935). The painted space is traversed by a linear garden of flowers chosen for their colourful blossoms. The plant composition sketches dancing reflections and mirrors the painting on the ground. Among the plants are plaques that bear the names and messages of donors to the 2019-2020 annual fundraising campaign of the MMFA Foundation, creating a superimposition of pastel colours in keeping with Post-Impressionist pictorial practice at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

Benches allow visitors to relax and enjoy the surroundings while maintaining a safe distance of two metres. The seating provides excellent views of works in the MMFA's Sculpture Garden, one of the largest public art collections in Montreal.

"The installation is an ode to joy and positivism, which were very present in Post-Impressionist works. We imagined this work as a large surface of sparkling pixelated water, upon which the users would be sailing boats. Like on a screen, the slipstreams in the image become a metaphor for our movements, reflecting our reality of the world from a distance. Avoiding collision, we sail on an ocean of reflections towards a horizon that is festive and filled with sparkles of joy," explained Pierre-Yves Diehl of Collectif Escargo.

"This art installation on Du Musée Avenue is a tribute to the generous donors of the annual fundraising campaign as well as the valued partners and dedicated employees of the MMFA and its Foundation. We express our deep gratitude for their support and commitment, which are more essential than ever in allowing the Museum to pursue its mission," said Danielle Champagne, Director General of the MMFA Foundation.

A sculpture garden worth revisiting

The MMFA's Sculpture Garden features 30 works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, David Altmejd, Valérie Blass, Alexander Calder, César, Lynn Chadwick, Aaron Curry, Jim Dine, Kosso Eloul, Sorel Etrog, Joe Fafard, Barry Flanagan, Elisabeth Frink, Antony Gormley, Charles Joseph, Henry Moore, David Nash, Mimmo Paladino, Jaume Plensa, JeanPaul Riopelle, Auguste Rodin, Armand Vaillancourt and Colleen Wolstenholme.

Composed of the CGI Sculpture Garden and the Max and Iris Stern Garden, it extends north of Sherbrooke Street on the pedestrian portion of Du Musée Avenue and south on Bishop Street in the Zone Éducation-Culture, thanks to the support of Concordia University and the Ville de Montréal. The Sculpture Garden is included in Tourisme Montréal's public art discovery tours, which reveal the history and cultural richness of Montreal.

Family guided tour

This summer, rain or shine, the MMFA's Volunteer Guides are inviting families on an exploration of the MMFA's Sculpture Garden.

  • Wednesday to Sunday at 2 p.m. (in English), 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. (in French)
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • For all ages
  • Family rate: $4*
  • Online reservation required:
  • *Reservations are required to take part in this tour. Maximum 8 people: 2 families of 4, or one group from the same family unit. Face coverings are mandatory.

— Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

— AB

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