Lonely Planet Writer

An exhibition honouring Leonard Cohen opens in his hometown of Montreal

A huge multi-disciplinary exhibition will open in Montreal on 9 November honouring the work of the late giant of songwriting, Leonard Cohen.

Montreal will honour Leonard Cohen at the new exhibition
Leonard Cohen performs at Coachella 2009. Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images

The exhibition, called ‘Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything / Une brèche en toute chose’ will open this week – one year after his passing – and will run until 9 April 2018. There will be at least 40 artists participating, including visual artists, filmmakers and musicians, and a series of concerts will also be running in parallel to the exhibition, run by Le Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC).

Some common themes in Cohen’s work will be explored, such as love, religion, depression, politics, war and desire. Some of the installations planned include projecting a selection of texts from his work onto some of Montreal’s most famous buildings, recordings of various artists performing their interpretation of I’m Your Man and rooms allowing visitors to be surrounded by a wall of music.

The exhibition has been in the planning stages for two years and the organisers got the blessing of Cohen himself for the project. John Zeppetello, director of MAC, said he was delighted with the plans. “From the start, the project was thought as a contemporary artistic exploration of a life’s work”, he said “and in that sense, [Leonard Cohen] was thrilled to be able to inspire other artists through his art.” With the singer’s death last year, the exhibition has also taken on a tribute element.

The Leonard Cohen exhibition is part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations and although the singer lived all over the world, he had a huge love for his hometown. In an interview in 2006 he said: “I feel at home when I’m in Montreal — in a way that I don’t feel anywhere else. I don’t know what it is, but the feeling gets stronger as I get older.”

Leonard Cohen relaxed in London, June 1974. Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images
Leonard Cohen relaxed in London, June 1974. Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images

Victor Shiffman, guest curator, calls him “our most illustrious ambassador, the great bard of our city, our eternal poet of love and brokenness” and says it’s a huge privilege for MAC to host the exhibition. “Montreal was the city of his birth, the city where he came of age, where he drew inspiration and creative nourishment and where he would finally come to rest. Leonard Cohen was a true Montrealer and his love for our city always remained close to his heart.”

This article was originally published June 2017 and was updated November 2017.