We Want Miles » Miles Davis vs. Jazz at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A multimedia retrospective traces the life and career of a musical icon

Montreal – Twenty years after the last concert given by Miles Davis (1926‐1991) in Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is presenting – in its exclusive North American venue – the first multimedia retrospective devoted to the jazz legend, from April 30 to August 29, 2010. “We Want Miles”: Miles Davis vs. Jazz will combine image and sound to offer visitors a sensory experience inspired by Miles Davis himself: “A painting is music you can see, and music is a painting you can hear.” This exhibition was developed and organized by the Cité de la Musique, France’s leading music institution, with the support of Miles Davis Properties, LLC, in association with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The title of the exhibition refers to the album We Want Miles, which the artist recorded in 1981.

“This presentation in Montreal is particularly significant, since, for more than thirty years, the city has been host to one of the largest and most prestigious jazz festivals, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which featured a memorable Miles Davis several times, said Nathalie Bondil, director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Hence, this first incursion into the realm of jazz on the part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will have particular resonance. The exhibition continues the Museum’s exploration of the connection between visual art and music recently initiated with the multimedia exhibitions Warhol Live: Music and Dance in Andy Warhol’s Work and Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko”.

The Montreal presentation of this exhibition features more works of art and devotes an additional section to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM). Featuring some three hundred and fifty works, the show is divided into eight thematic and chronological periods in the life and work of Miles Davis and highlights his strong influence on other art forms. Many portraits taken by the big names in photography, including Herman Leonard, Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz and Anton Corbijn, along with drawings and paintings by Miles Davis, a little‐known aspect of his artistic output that was very important to him. The presentation includes several brightly coloured compositions oscillating between figuration and abstraction, works that were painted at the end of his life in collaboration with his final companion, Jo Gelbard. These works are being exhibited for the first time. Paintings by Jean‐Michel Basquiat, Mati Klarwein and a sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle bear witness to the influence Miles Davis had beyond the musical sphere. Lastly, exclusive documents lent by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal will evoke the artist’s memorable concerts. The FIJM is also a partner in this event.