“The act of giving creates a social bond and an obligation to reciprocate on the part of the recipient.” So writes John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator of the MAC, in introducing The Grace of a Gesture, an exhibition which, this coming June, will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Canada’s premier museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. It was through the initiative and generosity of some forty artists, ten collectors, three galleries and one foundation that the Musée d’art contemporain came into being in 1964. Their initial donation of one hundred or so works has yielded tremendous benefit: today the Musée Collection includes 3,500 works (out of a total 7,800 in its holdings) that were graciously offered by more than 800 donors – a wonderful asset for a Collection now considered an invaluable part of our collective heritage!

To celebrate this high point in the Musée’s history and evolution, the exhibition pays fitting, twofold tribute to two gracious gestures: that of donating and that of creating. While the MAC regularly features works received as gifts in its exhibitions devoted to the Collection, The Grace of a Gesture is made up entirely of around 200 works that have been donated over its fifty-year history. This truly multidisciplinary event will reveal the countless connections between the selected works and the main trends that have influenced art in recent decades. Visitors will be able to discover, or enjoy rediscovering, pieces created by artists from all disciplines, generations and origins. Laid out in five galleries, in the Sculpture Garden and on the roof are works by such names as Charles Daudelin, Paul-Émile Borduas, Alfred Pellan, Jean-Paul Riopelle, David Altmejd, Nicolas Baier, Geneviève Cadieux, Pierre Dorion, Betty Goodwin, Pascal Grandmaison, Kent Monkman, Irene F. Whittome, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Nam June Paik, Giuseppe Penone and Antoni Tàpies.

The public, also made up of all generations, is invited to trace the history of its Musée d’art contemporain through these major works that were bequeathed by visionaries and today form part of its collective legacy. To quote John Zeppetelli once again, “reciprocity promotes a better way of living.”