America – Between dreams and realities


The works in this exhibition, a world exclusive tailor-made for the MNBAQ, are drawn from the prestigious collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution in washington d.c., which offers a broad spectrum of American art from 1914 to the present day. It brings together 82 artists from all backgrounds and 96 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and videos, which are sure to dazzle and delight visitors.

The exhibition features works by Louisa Bourgeois, Edward Hopper, arthur Jafa, The Guerrilla Girls, Willem of Kooning, Anna Mendieta, Louisa Nevelson, isamu Noguchi, jackson Pollock, Lorne simpsons, Andy Warhol and many others. The artists illustrate the impact of social and cultural history on artistic creation by United States, thus reflecting the great diversity of American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Some of them are among the most famous artists of the last century, while others offer visitors striking discoveries. All artists were born in United States or settled there permanently.

This exceptional exhibition focuses on seven themes that reveal how artists have helped define and reinvent the American dream, with particular emphasis on imagined landscapes, celebrating everyday life, technological revolutions or the challenges posed by globalization. The exhibition presents committed practices and also highlights questions of individual and collective identity.

“The works on display show that we share the great challenges facing contemporary American society. The recent history of Quebec and of the world is linked to that of United States and American art can certainly allow us to better grasp our own Americanness,” noted Jean Luc Murraygeneral manager of the MNBAQ.

Upon their arrival at the MNBAQ, visitors meet Geometric mouse (1971), an iconic sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, which is displayed in front of the Pierre Lassonde pavilion at the main entrance of the MNBAQ. The work evokes mickey mouse, the most iconic of all comic book characters and the quintessential symbol of American popular culture, and thus reflects many of the questions raised by the exhibition. From desert landscapes to New York skyscrapers and including Harlem or California ranges, from a 7-Up can to mickey mouse ears, Chubby Checker twist, or by Marilyn Monroe luscious lips, a myriad of striking symbols will punctuate this unique journey to the heart of UNITED STATES. God bless America!

Masterpieces presented in the exhibition

Modern art for me is nothing more than the expression of the contemporary goals of the times in which we live.
Jackson Pollock1951

This unique panorama offers a vast selection of works. The exhibition is structured around seven relevant themes: dreams and realities, Conceived Landscapes, The social body, across borders, Celebrate the everyday, New technologiesand Pluralisms. It offers a wide variety of approaches and many points of view, allowing visitors to discover a multitude of exceptional works and artists.

Hotel near a railway (1952) by Edward Hopper cannot be overlooked. Hopper favors realistic painting. He chose to depict the ordinary life of New Yorkers and New Englanders by transforming mundane genre scenes into enigmatic imagery. Hopper continues to shape the imagination with his cinematographic compositions and his highly contrasting play of light.

Visitors can also admire a work by Jackson Pollockone of the most famous artists of the 20th century. Number 3, 1949: Tiger (1949) by the master of abstraction and the designer of a new technique called dripping, which involves dripping liquid pigment onto the canvas on the ground and working on the four sides of the canvas.

In chubby checker (1964), artist, playwright, novelist and professional wrestler Rosalyn Drexler depicts the famous singer doing the twist. This promotion of the African-American musician at a time when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum is very moving.

by Andy Warhol the fascination with celebrity shines through in the painting titled by Marilyn Monroe Lips (1962). The artist cut out the mouth of Marilyn Monroe, the iconic American actress, and reproduced it by screen printing. The repetition of the lips not only reveals by Marilyn Monroe reduced to a sexual icon, but also the omnipresence of advertising material in the society of the time.

beach scene (1968) by Malcolm Morley, one of the main proponents of hyperrealism in the 1960s, is sure to charm visitors. This painstakingly hand-painted reproduction of a reproduction offers a darkly humorous satire of the commodification of leisure in which a family poses, fulfilling their dream of the perfect vacation in a Florida seaside resort.

the lovely point of tranquility (1959-1960) by Louis-Louisprominent figure of the Washington Color School, a group of abstract painters active in the American capital, belongs to a series of Florals and suggestively evokes the organic abstraction of the first American modernists.

Lately, by Henry Taylor If I don’t, someone should because you so deserve it (2020) deals with complex social issues and offers a reflection on the black experience in United States. The artwork depicts Elan Supreme, a chess champion, member of the princeton university basketball team and Fordham Law School student, who confidently expresses the question inscribed in the speech bubble: “Are you going to give me what I want? This painting invites us to take a closer look, listen and respond to black women.

The audio tour offers freedom and diversity

The audio tour created especially for America. Between dreams and realities is the ideal tool to allow visitors who like to visit the exhibition at their own pace to enrich their visit. The audio guide deepens the key periods of American history of the 20th and 21st centuries and thus better places the exhibited works in their context of creation. The exploration of these key events, in the form of essentially historical and artistic informative vignettes, was carried out in collaboration with Christophe Cloutier-Royacting director of the Observatory on theUnited of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in strategic and diplomatic studies from the University of Quebec in Montreal.

Visitors can download the audio guide, available in French and English, to their mobile devices.


An exhibition organized by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, washington d.c.. The contribution comes from Financial assistance measure for state museums for major international exhibitions.

Katherine Markoski
Guest Curator, HMSG

Curator of exhibitions, MNBAQ

MNBAQ Management
Jean-Luc Muray
General Manager, MNBAQ

Director of Exhibitions and International Partnerships, MNBAQ

Marie-Helene Audet
Head of Mediation, MNBAQ

Yasmee Faucher
Head of museography, MNBAQ

Catherine GAUMOND
Head of Collections,

Design and graphic design
Marie France GRONDIN
Designer, MNBAQ

audio guide
Jacinthe OTIS, MNBAQ
Director of Exhibitions, Design and Special Projects, HMSG

HMSG management
Melissa CHIU
Director, HMSG

Chief Curator, HMSG

Deputy Director, HMSG

Director of Exhibitions, Design and Special Projects, HMSG

Head of Exhibition Planning and Conservation, HMSG

The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec is a Crown corporation funded by the Government of Quebec.

America. Between dreams and realities
Selections from the Hirshhorn Collection and Sculpture Garden
Pierre-Lassonde Pavilion
Of June 9 to September 5, 2022

SOURCENational Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec

Information: 418 643-2150 or 1 866 220-2150 /


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