Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries


Mark Rothko: Reflection September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018
Seeking Stillness September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018
Joan Jonas: Ice Drawing September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018
Annette Lemieux: Mise en Scène September 24, 2017–March 4, 2018
Black and White: Japanese Modern Art September 30, 2017–June 3, 2018
Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics
A Collaboration with Nobuo Tsuji and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
October 18, 2017–April 1, 2018
Daily Life in Ancient Greece Opens December 2, 2017
(un)expected families December 9, 2017–June 17, 2018
Klimt and Schiele: Drawn February 25–May 28, 2017
Casanova: The Seduction of Europe July 1–October 8, 2018

Current Exhibitions


Wilson/Cortor through September 17, 2017
David Ortiz: King of the Diamond through September 18, 2017
Community Arts Initiative: Building with Light through October 15, 2017
The Summer of Love: Photography and Graphic Design through October 22, 2017
China’s 8 Brokens: Puzzles of the Treasured Past through October 29, 2017
Charles Sheeler from Doylestown to Detroit through November 5, 2017
Alfred Stieglitz and Modern America through November 5, 2017
Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada through December 10, 2017
Follow the North Star: Inuit Art from the Collection of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh through December 31, 2017
An Enchanted Land: A Century of Indian Paintings at the MFA through January 8, 2018
Conservation in Action: Demons and Demon Quellers through February 11, 2018
Daniela Rivera: The Andes Inverted through February 25, 2018
Past Is Present: Revival Jewelry through August 19, 2018
Presenting the New Japan opened May 13, 2017

*Gund Gallery exhibitions are in bold.

Please contact Public Relations to verify titles and dates before publication: pr@mfa.org.

Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries

Mark Rothko: Reflection

John F. Cogan, Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Gallery
September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018

An immersive display of 11 masterpieces by Mark Rothko (1903–70), on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., invites visitors to contemplate the power of art to shape human experience. The installation opens with a juxtaposition of Rothko’s early painting Thru the Window (1938), on public view in the U.S. for the first time, and Artist in his Studio (about 1628) by Rembrandt (1606–1669), from the MFA’s collection—both portraits of artists reflecting on the act of painting. Contrary to notions that Rothko’s work represented a dramatic break from past traditions, the side-by-side comparison positions him within the broader history of Western art. The additional 10 Rothko paintings showcase the full sweep of his career—from early surrealist work to multiform compositions to classic color field paintings—and trace his exploration of the expressive potential of color. Enveloped by the large-scale paintings in an intimate setting, viewers can experience Rothko’s work as the artist had originally intended. Presented with generous support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions. Additional support provided by an anonymous foundation and The Bruce and Laura Monrad Fund for Exhibitions.

Seeking Stillness

Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (multiple galleries)
September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018

A series of new installations in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art lead visitors on a journey of introspection through thematic displays focusing on spaces of contemplation; the artistic process as a form of meditation; and nature as a site for clearing the mind. Spanning three galleries, the exhibition juxtaposes works by a broad range of artists—including Edward Weston (1886–1958), Agnes Martin (1912–2004), Park Seo Bo (born 1931), Martin Puryear (born 1941), Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1946), Shellburne Thurber (born 1949) and Zhan Wang (born 1962). Highlights of the MFA’s historic holdings, including the Italian Mannerist masterpiece The Dead Christ with Angels (about 1524–27) by Rosso Fiorentino (1494–1540) and Chinese paintings and scholar’s rocks, are displayed in dramatic new ways alongside the modern and contemporary works, repositioning the Museum’s collection and offering surprise encounters. Presented with support from the Barbara Jane Anderson Fund, the Dr. Lawrence and Roberta Cohn Fund for Exhibitions, and Peter and Catherine Creighton.

Joan Jonas: Ice Drawing

Lizbeth and George Krupp Gallery
September 24, 2017–July 1, 2018

Since the late 1960s, visionary artist Joan Jonas (born 1936) has traversed boundaries between mediums, combining sound, text and drawing in video, performance and installation. Often in dialogue with literature, Jonas’s early work explored mythology and cultural archetypes related to gender, while more recent projects address our complex relationship with the natural world. The video and sculptural installation Ice Drawing (2012) is one component of Jonas’ performance and masterwork Reanimation (2013), inspired by the 1968 novel Under the Glacier by Icelandic author Halldór Laxness. Ice Drawing features footage of Jonas creating an abstract drawing using ink and ice—a gesture she carries out live when performing Reanimation. In the MFA installation, light from the projector refracts through a set of hanging crystals, spilling throughout the gallery and onto visitors’ bodies. In addition to Ice Drawing, the exhibition also features documentation of Jonas’ full performance of Reanimation at the MFA in 2014, along with drawing tools that she used throughout the live work.

Annette Lemieux: Mise en Scène

Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery
September 24, 2017–March 4, 2018

Conceptual artist Annette Lemieux (born 1957) is the recipient of the MFA’s 2017 Maud Morgan Prize, a biennial award honoring a Massachusetts woman artist who has made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape. This special solo exhibition debuts a new body of work, inspired by films Lemieux felt an affinity for as a child growing up in small-town America: François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451(1966), Robert Mulligan’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940) and Fritz Lang’s M (1931). While they are over half a century old, the issues broached by these classic motion pictures—including repression, censorship, racism and classism—continue to resonate in today’s political climate. Extracting select elements from each film’s mise en scène—its environment, ambiance and visual mode of storytelling—Lemieux recomposes familiar images from cinematic history into stand-alone objects, counteracting today’s incessant acts of rewinding and repeating. In addition to the new works, the exhibition also showcases five prints from the artist’s Censor Portfolio (1994), drawn from the MFA’s collection. Presented with support from the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund.

Black and White: Japanese Modern Art

Japanese Print Gallery
September 30, 2017–June 3, 2018

Centered around a newly acquired, large-scale work by calligrapher Inoue Yūichi (1916–85), this exhibition showcases a selection of avant-garde works in the monochrome aesthetic shared widely in Japan and beyond during the postwar period. This monochromatic sensibility is rooted in Zen Buddhism, which values simplicity and austerity, and remains influential today. The works in the exhibition are the results of transnational exchanges between Japanese artists like Inoue and their American Expressionist contemporaries, including Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock, who drew inspiration from Asian calligraphy for their gestural paintings. Among the nine works on view are prints, ceramics and sculpture, primarily drawn from the MFA’s collection.

Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics
A Collaboration with Nobuo Tsuji and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
October 18, 2017–April 1, 2018

Works by Takashi Murakami (born 1962), one of the most imaginative and important artists working today, will be juxtaposed with treasures from the MFA’s renowned collection of Japanese art. The exhibition will reveal how Murakami’s contemporary vision is richly inflected by a dynamic conversation with the historical past, framed by a creative dialogue with the great Japanese art historian, Professor Nobuo Tsuji. Together, Murakami and Professor Tsuji have chosen the objects that will be on view, including a number of works created by the artist in direct response to masterpieces from the MFA’s collection, such as Soga Shōhaku’s 35-foot-long Dragon and Clouds (1763) and the Heiji Scroll (second half of the 13th century)—one of the most famous Japanese works of art outside of Japan. Generously supported by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation.

Daily Life in Ancient Greece

Opens December 2, 2017

Offering rare glimpses of marriage and death, infancy and old age—and many of the intimate details in between—this new gallery is designed to encourage visitors to make immediate connections with an ancient culture. A group of 250 recently conserved objects present an engaging visual introduction to the complexities of daily life in ancient Greece. Made from ceramic, stone and bronze, they include household items, trade tools and images of everyday scenes on various painted vessels—providing insight into who the ancient Greeks were and how they lived. Exploring the society’s gender roles, several cases present objects associated with women, children and family, including woolworking tools, cosmetic and perfume jars, mirrors and children’s toys, as well as depictions of marriage rituals and everyday tasks like cooking and fetching water. The theme of masculinity, meanwhile, is illustrated through artworks that represent the world of the warrior, athletic competition and the origins of the Olympic Games. Other topics highlighted in the gallery include funerary traditions and commerce, with tools from centuries-old professions—such as farming, medicine, fishing, shoemaking and butchery—reinforcing connections between ancient traditions and modern life.

(un)expected families

Clementine Brown Gallery and Herb Ritts Gallery
December 9, 2017–June 17, 2018

Bringing together more than 75 pictures taken by American photographers from the 19th century to today, this thematic exhibition explores the definition of the American family—from the families we’re born into, to the ones we’ve chosen for ourselves. The selection of works on view depicts a wide range of relationships, including multiple generations, romantic unions and alternative family structures. Using archival, vernacular, and fine art photographs, the exhibition illustrates that family has always taken diverse forms—a fact photographers have documented since the birth of the camera—and challenges visitors to consider what family means to them. Drawn primarily from the MFA’s collection, the exhibition features photographs by Nan Goldin (born 1953), Carrie Mae Weems (born 1953), Nicholas Nixon (born 1947), Elsa Dorfman (born 1937), Dorothea Lange (1895–1965) and Gordon Parks (1912–2006), among others. Loans from private collections include Victorian-era “Hidden Mother” photographs of infants in the laps of concealed parents—a trick to keep the children still during a long exposure—and turn-of-the-century portraits of women in intimate relationships sometimes referred to as “Boston marriages.” Additionally, the exhibition showcases new acquisitions by photographers, including David Hilliard (born 1964) and Sage Sohier (born 1954), and works by Boston-area artists, including Jeannie Simms (born 1967), Zoe Perry-Wood (born 1959), Amber Tourlentes (born 1970) and Caleb Cole (born 1981).

Klimt and Schiele: Drawn

Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
February 25–May 28, 2018

Honoring the centenary of the deaths of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918) and Egon Schiele (1890–1918), the MFA presents a special exhibition of drawings by both artists, on loan from the Albertina in Vienna. Nearly 30 years apart in age, Klimt and Schiele shared a mutual admiration for each other’s talent, although their work is decidedly different in appearance and effect. Klimt’s drawings are often delicate, while Schiele’s are regularly bold. Klimt often used his as preparatory designs for paintings, while Schiele considered his own as independent pictures and routinely sold them. The exhibition examines both these departures and the compelling ways in which the two artists’ work relates—particularly in their provocative depictions of the human body. With frank naturalism and unsettling emotional resonances, as well as disorienting omissions, both Klimt and Schiele challenged conventions and expectations in portraits, nudes and allegories. Organized thematically, the selection of 60 drawings on view extends from the artists’ academic origins to explore how each shifted away from traditional training to more incisive and unconventional explorations of humanity over the course of their careers. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated publication.

Casanova: The Seduction of Europe

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
July 1–October 8, 2018

Notorious today for his amorous pursuits, Giacomo Casanova (1725–98) was esteemed by his contemporaries as a charming conversationalist, expert on many topics, and an international man of letters. He traveled widely throughout the continent, with extended sojourns in his native Venice, Paris, London, and much of Eastern Europe, mingling with royalty, popes and luminaries such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin along the way. This exhibition combines more than 250 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative arts objects, period costumes and musical instruments drawn from European and American museums and private collections to illustrate the splendor of 18th-century Europe. Structured by the chronology and geography of Casanova’s life, the exhibition addresses such themes as travel; courtship and seduction; theatre and identity; and the pleasures of dining. The visual riches Casanova would have encountered are evoked by masterpieces by Canaletto (1697–1768), François Boucher (1703–70), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828), William Hogarth (1697–1764) and others. Three tableaux—set in Venice, Paris and London—employ period furniture and mannequins in 18th-century costumes to vividly convey scenarios from Casanova’s world. Casanova: The Seduction of Europe is co-organized by the MFA, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.

Current Exhibitions


Mary Stamas Gallery and Frances Vrachos Gallery
through September 17, 2017

This exhibition celebrates the legacies of two contemporary American artists—John Wilson (1922–2015) and Eldzier Cortor (1916–2015)—each dedicated to an exploration of the African American experience through divergent styles. Featuring approximately 50 objects, the exhibition highlights the MFA’s significant holdings of prints and drawings by both artists. Many works are shown for the first time—including a number from a recent gift made by Cortor that included three paintings, two drawings and more than 50 prints and printing matrices.

A Roxbury native, Wilson graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1945 and, after working abroad in Paris and Mexico, taught at Boston University from 1965-86. His time with the Mexican muralists in the 1950s stoked a lifelong commitment to social justice in his art. A preparatory drawing for one of Wilson’s best-known works—a bronze bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. installed in the US Capitol Rotunda in 1986—is displayed alongside a monumental etched portrait of the slain civil rights leader, shown in a series of progressive stages of completion.

Cortor attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1930s. Informed by his early exposure to African sculpture at the Field Museum and his study of the Gullah community of the Sea Islands, Cortor’s paintings and prints offer stylized depictions of the African American woman as a symbol of strength. A series of abstract etchings and woodcuts begun by Cortor in 1955 relate to the artist’s experience in Haiti, while his 1973 painting Still Life: Past Revisited presents a tumble of nostalgic objects alluding to the rich history of black America in the early 20th century.

David Ortiz: King of the Diamond

Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria
through September 18, 2017

This summer, the MFA steps up to the plate to celebrate the career of Red Sox icon David Ortiz. An installation of Ortiz’s World Series Championship rings from 2004, 2007 and 2013 kicks off Father’s Day weekend. His 2013 World Series MVP ring will be installed a week later, coinciding with the retirement of Ortiz’s number 34 at a Fenway Park ceremony on June 23. As part of the week’s celebration of Ortiz, a donation box for the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, an organization committed to providing lifesaving heart surgeries for children in the Dominican Republic and helping countless others across New England, will be at the Museum. “My relationship with the City of Boston is close to my heart, and I’m happy to share my rings with the MFA to give Red Sox fans a chance to view them up close,” said Ortiz. “I always want to remind the city to swing for the fences and never give up.”

Community Arts Initiative: Building with Light

Edward H. Linde Gallery
through October 15, 2017

Over the past school year, students from the Museum’s 10 Community Arts Initiative (CAI) partners visited the MFA with artist Julie Martini as part of the MFA’s 12th-annual Artist Project. With sketchbooks in hand to record ideas and drawings, students discussed objects in the galleries that use light as a medium or as a subject—including stained glass, contemporary light art and Impressionist painting—to develop an understanding of the use of light in art and architecture. Then, inspired by what they explored in the Museum galleries and the buildings in their home communities, the children used a variety of transparent materials to experiment with how they intensify and modify light. The final installation of Building with Light celebrates their discoveries, incorporating colors, patterns and motifs from their sketches into designs on large Plexiglas panels. Through the CAI, the MFA is proud to partner with Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester, United South End Settlements, West End House Boys and Girls Club of Allston-Brighton, Vine Street Community Center, and five of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston located in Blue Hill, Chelsea, Charlestown, South Boston, and Roxbury. The Community Arts Initiative is generously supported by the Linde Family Foundation.

The Summer of Love: Photography and Graphic Design

Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery
through October 22, 2017

In celebration of the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary, this exhibition explodes with a profusion of more than 120 posters, album covers and photographs from the transformative years around 1967. That summer, fueled by sensational stories in the national media, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became a mecca for thousands seeking an alternative to the constrictions of postwar American society. A new graphic vocabulary emerged in posters commissioned to advertise weekly rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom, with bands such as Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Janis Joplin-led Big Brother & The Holding Company. A group of more than 50 concert posters highlights experiments with psychedelic graphic design and meandering typography—often verging on the illegible. These include works by Wes Wilson, who took inspiration from earlier art movements such as the Vienna Secession, and Victor Moscoso, whose studies of color theory with Josef Albers at Yale University translated into striking use of bright, saturated colors in his own designs. A grid of 25 album covers traces the influence of the famously amorphous lettering in the Beatles’ 1965 album Rubber Soul on countless covers and posters from later in the decade. At the heart of the exhibition is a group of 32 photographs by Herb Greene, a pioneering member of the Haight-Ashbury counterculture. Many of his iconic images document the city’s burgeoning music scene, while a selection from a newly published portfolio offers a glimpse at everyday life in the Haight during the fabled summer of 1967.

China’s 8 Brokens: Puzzles of the Treasured Past

Lee Gallery
through October 29, 2017

This will be the first-ever exhibition dedicated to bapo (which translates to “eight brokens”) painting, a revolutionary artistic genre that emerged in China during the mid-19th century. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and bapo refers to the damaged cultural ephemera hyper-realistically depicted in the paintings—worm-eaten calligraphies, partial book pages, burned paintings, remnants of rubbings and torn-open letters. They are usually arranged in a haphazard, collage-like composition—created with Chinese ink and colors on paper or silk, but offering the illusion of three-dimensionality. When bapo emerged, this unexpected imagery was radically distinct from classical Chinese landscape and figure painting, and became popular among an aspiring, urban middle class delighted by its visual trickery and sophistication. After 1949, the art form was largely forgotten, but has recently been rediscovered by contemporary artists and collectors. This exhibition will present some of the finest examples of bapo paintings dating back to the 19th century, including new acquisitions and loans from museums and private collections located in the United States and Asia, as well as a contemporary work by artist Geng Xuezhi. They will be interspersed with three-dimensional decorative and functional objects that display bapo imagery. Presented with generous support from the Tan Family Education Foundation. Additional support from the Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Exhibition Fund, the Joel Alvord and Lisa Schmid Alvord Fund, the Roger and Dawn Nordblom Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom, and The June N. and John C. Robinson Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom.

Charles Sheeler from Doylestown to Detroit

Clementine Brown Gallery
through November 5, 2017

This exhibition celebrates the MFA’s unparalleled holdings of works by Charles Sheeler (1883–1965), presenting 40 photographs from three significant series created during the heyday of his career as a founder of American modernism. After enjoying success as a painter, Sheeler initially took up photography as a way to make a living. His experiments with the medium included the 1916-17 series of photographs capturing various elements of an 18th-century house he rented in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The sequence of stark, geometric compositions was among the most abstract and avant-garde work being made in the US at the time—created in response to the Cubist art of Picasso and Braque that Sheeler had previously encountered in Europe. In 1920, Sheeler collaborated with fellow photographer Paul Strand on the short film Manhatta, presenting dramatic views of lower Manhattan. Abstract stills from the 35mm film, which was shot from steep angles, are presented alongside larger prints of Sheeler’s cinematic images of New York City, produced shortly after Manhatta—which he used as source material for his paintings. The exhibition culminates with the 1927 photographs of the Ford Motor Company plant in River Rouge, Michigan, commissioned to celebrate the introduction of Ford’s Model A. The cathedral-like scenes convey an optimism for American industry, and are now considered icons of Machine Age photography. All of the photographs in the exhibition are drawn from the Museum’s Lane Collection—one of the finest private holdings of 20th-century American art in the world, including Sheeler’s entire photographic estate—given to the MFA in 2012. Presented with support from the Benjamin A. Trustman and Julia M. Trustman Fund.

Alfred Stieglitz and Modern America

Herb Ritts Gallery
through November 5, 2017

This exhibition presents a selection of the MFA’s exceptional holdings of works by Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), the great American impresario of photography at the turn of the 20th century. Featuring 36 photographs, the exhibition showcases fine examples of his New York views, portraits and photographs that Stieglitz took at his family’s country home at Lake George. The New York views reveal the artist’s lifelong interest in the urban city, from his early explorations of the picturesque effects of rain, snow and nightfall to later ones that focus on the inherent geometry of modernity’s rising architectural structures. The portraits include 10 images from Stieglitz’s magnificent extended series of images of his wife, the celebrated painter Georgia O’Keeffe—a “portrait in time” that reflects his ideals of modern womanhood and is evocative of their close relationship. These portraits are accompanied by additional images of members of his family and friends. The Lake George photographs include, in addition to views of the family property, a sequence of the mystical cloud studies that Stieglitz called “equivalents,” which explore the interpretation of inner states of being. Many of the photographs on view were donated by Stieglitz to the MFA in 1924—making it one of the first museums in the US to collect photography as fine art. Enhanced by an additional gift from O’Keeffe in 1950, the MFA’s Stieglitz holdings form an outstanding survey of the photographer’s career, as well as the cornerstone of the Museum’s photography collection. Presented with support from the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fund.

Showdown! Kuniyoshi vs. Kunisada

Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
through December 10, 2017

Rival artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864) were the two bestselling designers of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. Kunisada was the popular favorite during his lifetime, famous for realistic portraits of Kabuki theater actors, sensual images of beautiful women and the luxurious settings he imagined for historical scenes. Kuniyoshi is beloved by today’s connoisseurs and collectors for his dynamic action scenes of tattooed warriors and supernatural monsters—foreshadowing present-day manga and anime—as well as comic prints and a few especially daring works that feature forbidden political satire in disguise. The exhibition presents a selection of 100 works, drawn entirely from the MFA’s preeminent Japanese collection. Many of these, including large, multi-sheet images in brilliant color, are on view in the US for the first time. Viewers are invited to decide for themselves which of the two artists is their personal favorite. Presented with support from the Patricia B. Jacoby Exhibition Fund and an anonymous funder.

Follow the North Star: Inuit Art from the Collection of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh

Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
through December 31, 2017

Opening on the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, this exhibition presents a selection of Inuit prints from the collection of renowned portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh and his wife Estrellita, both longtime supporters of the MFA. Included are works by key Inuit artists such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Agnes Nanogak, Jessie Oonark, Pudlo Pudlat and Lucy Qinnuayuak. The prints come largely from the printmaking cooperative at Cape Dorset, north of Hudson Bay, where printmaking was introduced around 1959. Most are stone-cuts, handprinted from blocks of soapstone in which the images are carved in relief. The works are organized thematically, with sections focusing on family and daily life; hunting; shamans and myths; and tradition and the incursion of the modern world. In addition to the prints, the exhibition features a number of small-scale sculptures, and is accompanied by a visitor guide, available for free in the gallery. “Follow the North Star: Inuit Art from the Collection of Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh” is supported by TD Bank. Additional support from the Consulate General of Canada in Boston.

An Enchanted Land: A Century of Indian Paintings at the MFA

Corridor between Islamic Gallery and Huntington Lobby
through January 7, 2018

An Enchanted Land celebrates the centennial of the MFA’s collection of Indian art with a display of some of the most extraordinary examples of Indian painting anywhere in the world. Made in the Rajput kingdoms of North India between the 17th and 19th century, they represent a type of art that was totally unknown in the West when they entered the Museum’s collection a century ago. Even in India, Rajput painting was then little recognized. This exhibition celebrates 100 years of Indian paintings at the MFA, highlighting the contributions of the figure who brought them to Boston, and to the attention of the world: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947). Curator at the Museum from 1917 until his death in 1947, Coomaraswamy collected these paintings during his travels in India and sold them to MFA benefactor Denman Waldo Ross. A pioneering philosopher and historian of Indian art, Coomaraswamy was also a staunch nationalist, working to end British colonialism in India and elsewhere. He put Rajput painting forward as a proto-national art form of the highest quality, a visual manifestation of what he called “the great ideals of Indian culture.” For him the struggle for independence was nothing less than a fight to keep these ideals alive. The end of colonialism in India has reframed the ways we approach the study of Indian art, but many of Coomaraswamy’s observations and arguments about Rajput painting remain incisive. The works on view in this exhibition—organized around his own words, reflecting some of his keenest insights—also retain their power and their ability to delight. Presented with support from the Das Family Fund for the Exhibition of South and Southeast Asian Art.

Conservation in Action: Demons and Demon Quellers

Asian Paintings Gallery
through February 11, 2018

Museum visitors are invited to watch as the Asian Conservation Studio restores a 12-foot portrait of the mythological demon queller Marshal Xin, the “Thunder Guardian,” dating back to China’s Ming dynasty and on view to the public for the first time. Marshal Xin was an impressive figure in Daoism, the popular belief system in imperial China, with powers to control ghosts and spirits, summon thunder and rain, and avert evil. The MFA’s 16th-century portrait may have once hung in a county government temple for use in ceremonies to protect all local citizens. The six-month conservation treatment involves completely dismantling and reassembling the entire work—a complicated construction in which the painting and mount form an inseparable unit, unlike most Western paintings and their frames. Conservators will also restore the painted image and original silk support. At times, visitors will be able to observe the elaborate process unfold, as well as interact with conservators at work. The hanging scroll will be surrounded by about 20 other works depicting demons and demon quellers, including an important 15th-century Chinese handscroll featuring the deity Erlang and his army battling mountain demons who have taken the form of beautiful women, as well as a Korean painting that shows demons tormenting sinners in the Buddhist hells. Japanese demonology will be represented with an assortment of paintings and prints that includes the 19th-century hanging scroll Night Procession of the Hundred Demons. Additionally, Mr. Sea (2014) by Beijing-based artist Geng Xue will be screened in the gallery, showcasing how traditional tales of demons and ghosts continue to influence contemporary culture. The animated film, featuring blue-and-white porcelain figures, recreates a supernatural adventure from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, a famous 18th-century collection of ghost stories.

Daniela Rivera: The Andes Inverted

Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria and the Lisbeth Tarlow and Stephen Kay Art Wall
through February 25, 2018

Museum installations by Daniela Rivera (born 1973) often focus on uncanny spatial and material dislocations. Breaking from the traditional mold of painting, she creates immersive experiences that draw from her personal history. Her 2015 Traveling Fellowship from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University inspired an ambitious transformation of a gallery in the MFA’s Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art with materials, images and sounds gathered from a landmark in her home country: Chile’s Chuquicamata copper mine. Like an inversion of the naturally soaring Andes, Chile’s massive copper mines are machine-shaped canyons, a symbol of national pride and a driver of the Chilean economy, yet at a cost. Inhabited for generations, an employee town at Chuquicamata’s edge provided a world-class hospital, schools, theaters, sports fields and homes for more than 30,000 people. By 2008, new mining methods and increasing pollution forced the community to relocate; since evacuated, expanded digging has buried the site. The Andes Inverted aims to explore the mine’s disruptive impacts—at once environmental, political, cultural and psychological—and evokes the paradox faced by Chuquicamata miners, many of whom described the jobs and joy provided by the same mine that consumed their homes, memories and landscape. Rivera explains the miners’ situation is not black-and-white but grey: “Their labor is both productive and destructive, their self-sabotage is the complexity of the place.” Presented with support from the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Additional support provided to the artist in part by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Ford Foundation, the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program, and by a grant from the Artist’s Resource Trust.

Past Is Present: Revival Jewelry

Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Room
through August 19, 2018

Whether by directly copying or selectively choosing motifs to reinterpret, jewelers have a long-standing tradition of looking to the past for inspiration. The practice became popular in the 19th century, as designers like Castellani, Giacinto Melillo and Eugene Fontenay began reviving examples of ancient ornaments, newly unearthed in archaeological excavations. This exhibition examines more than 4,000 years of jewelry history through about 70 objects, including both ancient and revival examples. The revival movement is traced from the 19th to the 21st century, focusing on four types—archaeological, Classical, Egyptian and Renaissance. Highlights include an 1850s embellished gold brooch by Castellani; a Renaissance revival neck ornament (1900–04) designed for Tiffany & Co.; a 1980s Bulgari necklace adorned with Macedonian coins; and a 2002 Akelo pendant that emulates an ancient Etruscan granulation technique.

Presenting the New Japan

Opened May 13, 2017

After more than 200 years of national seclusion, Japan opened its ports to foreign trade and soon after—with the ascension of Emperor Meiji as the leader of the government in 1868—embarked on a campaign of modernization and Westernization. This new installation in the Art of Japan gallery re-examines a broad spectrum of works created during this time of cultural exchange. Featuring 90 objects drawn from the MFA’s own renowned holdings along with private collections, the installation centers on paintings and decorative arts by Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891), who understood international markets. His lacquerware, scrolls and folding screens combine traditional Japanese techniques with Western formats and were highly sought after by European and American collectors, as well as members of Japan’s new mercantile class. The gallery also features groups of objects that have rarely been displayed together. Until recently, works that were produced for the Western market, such as intricately decorated metalwork and lacquerware, were snubbed in Japan as “export art.” Meanwhile, objects that were made for Japanese audiences, such as paintings with traditional formats and themes, were largely ignored by Western collectors. Bringing these works together shows the influence, both at home and abroad, of artistic dialogues between Japan and the West during the Meiji era.