If you have a taste for pastoral landscapes and formal portraits, you might want to stick with the Musée des Beaux-Arts. But for a walk on the wild side of art, see what you can make of the jagged splashes of color that cover the canvases of the "Automatistes," as Québec's rebellious artists of the 1930s styled themselves. Their works form the core of this museum's collection of 5,000 pieces. One of the leaders of the movement, Jean-Paul Riopelle (1923–2002), often
tossed his brushes and palette knives aside and just squeezed the paint directly on to the canvas—sometimes several tubes at a time. In 1948, Riopelle and his friends fired the first shot in Québec's Quiet Revolution by signing Le Refus Global, a manifesto that renounced the political and religious establishment of the day and revolutionized art in the province. The museum often has weekend programs and art workshops, some of which are geared toward children, and almost all are free. And for a little romance and music with your art, try the Vendredi Nocturnes (Nocturnal Fridays) with live music, bar service, and guided tours of the exhibits. Hours for guided tours vary.
With new government funding of C$18.9 million, the MAC will be expanding, doubling its exhibit space, adding an auditorium, and providing more educational activities. It's a welcome development for a museum that's been presenting art to Montreal for 50 years.