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November 12

The Exhibition Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) – La bibliothèque d'un philosophe at the Heart of BAnQ’s Philosophy Year

Montréal, November 12, 2012 – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) presents the exhibition Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) – La bibliothèque d'un philosophe in the Grande Bibliothèque's main exhibition hall from November 13, 2012, to August 25, 2013. Standard bearer of BAnQ's Philosophy Year, this exhibition grants the general public unprecedented access to the treasures held in the library of this leading 20th century thinker. A second exhibition, presented in the Espace Jeunes (the children's library) starting April 2013, will introduce youngsters to the practice of philosophy.

From left to right: Georges Leroux, Exhibition Curator; Anik Simard, Director, Public Relations, La Capitale Financial Group; Gillian Lane-Mercier, Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, McGill University; Maka Kotto, Québec Minister of Culture and Communications; Alexis Martin, Artistic Director of the exhibition; and Dr. Guy Berthiaume, BAnQ Chair and CEO.
Photo: Louis-Étienne Doré

Born in France to German parents, Raymond Klibansky studied in Germany after his family was forced into returning home when war was declared in 1914. He was a young philosophy professor in Heidelberg when he left Germany in 1933 due to the issuance of racial laws. As a result, he spent World War II in London and joined the Allied effort against the Nazi regime. In 1946, he heeded the invitation of McGill University and settled in Montréal.

Here, Klibansky, who entertained a passion for books, further pursued the expansion of his collection, already well begun in Germany and Great-Britain. His academic writings on peace and the philosophical dialogue have helped him significantly enhance this collection, one of the most outstanding personal libraries in North America. While he was alive, Klibansky bequeathed his library, and its more than 7000 works, to the McGill University Library. It is now part of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division. The exhibition, which opened today, features some of the most remarkable books of this collection and covers an extremely rich intellectual journey. The creation of this exceptional exhibition by BAnQ was made possible through the collaboration of McGill University, who graciously granted BAnQ access to the Klibansky Collection.

The philosopher and his role in society

"This year is centered on philosophy at BAnQ. In these unsettling times for our societies, we want to demonstrate that philosophy is a necessity for everyone. Against this background, I am pleased that we are able to present the general public with an intellectual achievement as significant as Raymond Klibansky's. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate of a world of peace, freedom and tolerance based on cross-cultural rapprochement. In this respect, he is a role model for all of us," said Dr. Guy Berthiaume, BAnQ Chair and CEO.

Georges Leroux, to whom Raymond Klibansky taught, was called upon to curate the exhibition. Mr. Leroux, Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Université du Québec à Montréal, has published a fair number of books on philosophy and the history of ideas. He has mentioned how influential his former mentor's writings were on his work. "In recent years, my work has essentially focused on several major issues of public philosophy, particularly within the field of education and pluralism. Mr. Klibansky's influence undoubtedly explains my commitment as a thinker and a philosopher in the academic debates inherent to the concerns of our society. I am delighted that this exhibition demonstrates to the general public the importance of the philosopher's role in the current major debates and in the ongoing dialogue between cultures," added Mr. Leroux.

A three-fold exhibition

To enhance the exhibition, curator Georges Leroux was fortunate enough to receive sound advice and valuable assistance from a brilliant design team that included Alexis Martin, artistic direction, David Gaucher, Philippe Legris and Sébastien Bisson, graphic design, and Nicolas Descôteaux, lighting.

The exhibition is divided into three sections: Le savant, Le juste et Le témoin [Scholar, Just, and Witness]. It covers both the intellectual career and the work of Raymond Klibansky. Staged in the shape of an ellipse, an allusion to the layout of the Warburg Institute Library in Hamburg (now relocated in London), where Raymond Klibansky was a young researcher studying under philosopher Ernst Cassirer, visitors will discover early books, engravings, writings and letters.

The exhibition is divided into three sections: Le savant, Le juste et Le témoin [Scholar, Just, and Witness]. It covers both the intellectual career and the work of Raymond Klibansky. Staged in the shape of an ellipse, an allusion to the layout of the Warburg Institute Library in Hamburg (now relocated in London), where Raymond Klibansky was a young researcher studying under philosopher Ernst Cassirer, visitors will discover early books, engravings, writings and letters.

Exhibition-Related Activities

During Philosophy Year, lectures, public readings, workshops and guided tours of the exhibitions will help inspire the public to reflect on the role of the individual in society. Among these activities:

  • November 15, a lecture by Georges Leroux: Raymond Klibansky – Une vie au service de la justice et de la pensée
  • December 10, encounters and performances by emerging artists: série 50 ans d'avenir – L'art pense
  • December 11 and January 15, guided tours of the exhibition Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) – La bibliothèque d'un philosophe
  • January 22, a public reading: La bibliothèque de Raymond Klibansky – Les lectures d'un humaniste, staged by Alexis Martin
  • January 24, a lecture by Jean-Philippe Uzel: L'interprétation iconologique des mystères de Melencolia I de Dürer
  • At the end of February, an exciting philosophical Nuit blanche will take place at the Grande Bibliothèque. This event promises to be filled with surprises for all-night revellers!

Please view the Calendrier des activités culturelles for information regarding to BAnQ's cultural activities at banq.qc.ca.

A publication to complement the exhibition

In addition to the exhibition, BAnQ publishes, in collaboration with McGill University, a book titled Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) – La bibliothèque d'un philosophe. Edited by curator Georges Leroux, this publication, which features over a hundred colour reproductions, captures the intellectual essence of Raymond Klibansky, showcases his book collection, explains his works as well as his connection with the Warburg Library, presents an anthology of his writings and, offers a reflection on the importance of books and libraries in his life. The book will be sold online in January (boutique@banq.qc.ca) as well as in bookstores for $47.95.

Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) – La bibliothèque d'un philosophe Exhibition
From November 13, 2012 to August 25, 2013
Grande Bibliothèque
Main exhibition hall, Level M
475, boulevard De Maisonneuve Est
Montréal
Free admission Tuesdays through Fridays, from 12 noon to 9 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.
The exhibition is a BAnQ production.

TopAbout Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

As the largest cultural institution in Québec and an essential pillar of the knowledge society, the mission of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is to offer democratic access to culture and knowledge. To this end, it brings together, preserves, and disseminates the Québec and Québec-related documentary heritage. It also provides the services of a major public library. BAnQ encompasses the Grande Bibliothèque, a preservation centre (Centre de conservation) and nine archives centres in Montréal, Québec City, Gatineau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Îles, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, and an antenna at Gaspé.

Catalogue des Bibliothèques du Québec. RFN: Réseau Francophone Numérique. Réseau de Diffusion des Archives du Québec. Les Amis de BAnQ. Fondation de BAnQ.

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