*Gund Gallery exhibitions are in bold.
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Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries
Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
July 1–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.
Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery
July 6–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.
Clementine Brown Gallery
July 22–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.
Herb Ritts Gallery
July 22–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.
Asian Paintings Gallery
July 29, 2017–February 4, 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.
Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
August 11–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.
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. More than 200 recently conserved objects present an engaging visual introduction to the complexities of daily life in ancient Greece. Made from ceramic, stone, bone 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 needles, spindles and looms, toys, perfume holders, 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.
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
through July 9, 2017
This is the first major international exhibition to examine the importance of Henri Matisse’s personal collection of objects, offering unprecedented insight into the revolutionary 20th-century artist’s creativity. Five thematic sections—“The Object Is an Actor, “The Nude,” “The Face,” “Studio as Theatre,” and “Essential Forms”—feature a range of works in a variety of media from different points in the artist’s career. Approximately 34 paintings, 26 drawings, 11 bronzes, nine cut-outs, three prints and an illustrated book by Matisse are showcased alongside about 39 objects that the artist kept in his studios—many on loan from the Musée Matisse, Nice, as well as private collections, and publicly exhibited for the first time. They include a pewter jug, a chocolate maker given as a wedding present and an Andalusian vase found in Spain, as well as textiles, sculptures and masks from the various Islamic, Asian and African traditions that Matisse admired. The exhibition travels to the Royal Academy of Arts in London from August 5–November 12, 2017, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, produced by MFA Publications, with contributions by renowned Matisse scholars. The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Royal Academy of Arts, in partnership with the Musée Matisse, Nice. Sponsored by Bank of America. Presented with additional support from the Betty L. Heath Paintings Fund for the Art of Europe, and the Alexander M. Levine and Dr. Rosemarie D. Bria-Levine Exhibition Fund. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Media sponsor is WCVB Boston. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Generous support for the publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund.
Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
through July 9, 2017
Perhaps more than any other painter, Sandro Botticelli (about 1445–1510) exemplifies the Renaissance in Florence during the 15th century, and his signature style of strong contours, lyrical poses and flowing drapery remains instantly recognizable more than five centuries later. Paintings from museums and churches in seven Italian cities are brought together in the largest exhibition of works by the artist ever to be shown in the US, nearly all on view here for the first time. Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary and Italy’s Metamorfosi Associazione Culturale, the exhibition explores dramatic changes in the artist’s style that reflect the shifting political climate of 15th-century Florence. At the height of his career, Botticelli was supported by the powerful Medici family, headed by Lorenzo the Magnificent. Pallas and the Centaur (1481, Uffizi, Florence) and Venus (about 1490, Galleria Sabauda, Turin)—Botticelli’s reworking of his famous Birth of Venus—are nearly life-size works from this period and display the painter’s skill in depicting elegant figures from classical mythology.
In his later years, Botticelli became a follower of the stern Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, who by 1495 had established a theocracy in Florence following the exile of the Medici family. Personal conduct came under severe scrutiny, and in 1497 all manner of worldly goods—including cosmetics, mirrors, fancy clothing and paintings—were burned in the notorious “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Under Savonarola’s sway, Botticelli’s graceful manner gave way to a newly austere approach, and secular subject matter disappeared. Severe religious paintings dominate the artist’s later production, and such masterpieces as the Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John (about 1495, Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence) demonstrate the striking departure from his earlier sweet style. The exhibition also includes paintings by Botticelli’s teacher Filippo Lippi, his student Filippino Lippi and other contemporaries. Additionally, rare engravings and woodcuts help bring to life the rich cultural context of Florence in the age of Botticelli and Savonarola.
Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (multiple galleries)
through July 30, 2017
The exhibition offers an extraordinarily rare glimpse of life inside the Lodz Ghetto during World War II, through the lens of Polish Jewish photojournalist Henryk Ross (1910–1991). Situated in the heart of Poland, the city of Lodz was occupied by German forces in 1939, becoming the country’s second largest ghetto for Europe’s Jewish population, after Warsaw. Confined to the ghetto in 1940 and put to work as a bureaucratic photographer by the Jewish Administration’s Statistics department, Ross took official photographs for Jewish identification cards, as well as images that were used as propaganda to promote the efficiency of the ghetto’s labor force. Unofficially—and at great risk—Ross took it upon himself to document the complex realities of life in the Lodz Ghetto under Nazi rule, culminating in the deportation of thousands to death camps at Chelmno and Auschwitz. Hoping to preserve a historical record, Ross buried his negatives in 1944. He returned for them after the war, discovering that more than half of the original 6,000 survived. Memory Unearthed, organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, presents more than 200 of Ross’s powerful photographs, comprising a moving and intimate visual record of the Holocaust. The images are accompanied by artifacts, including Ross’s own identity card, ghetto notices and footage from the 1961 trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, where Ross’s photographs were submitted as evidence. An album of contact prints, handcrafted by Ross and shown in its entirety as the centerpiece of the exhibition, serves as a summation of his memories, capturing his personal narrative. Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Lead support from Lisbeth Tarlow and Stephen Kay. With generous support from Marc S. Plonskier and Heni Koenigsberg, and Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner. Additional support provided by The David Berg Foundation; Dr. John and Bette Cohen; the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc.; Mary Levin Koch and William Koch; Ronald and Julia Druker; the Highland Street Foundation; Joy and Douglas Kant; Marjie and Robert Kargman; Brian J. Knez; Myra Musicant and Howard Cohen; James and Melinda Rabb; Cameron R. Rahbar and Dori H. Rahbar; the Schlebovitz Family; Candice and Howard Wolk; Xiaohua Zhang and Quan Zhou; and the Andrew and Marina Lewin Family Foundation. Educational and public programming is generously supported by the Beker Foundation. Additional support provided by the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation. With thanks to our partners Facing History and Ourselves, and the Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts).
John F. Cogan, Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Gallery
through July 30, 2017
Adjacent to the exhibition Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art, this special installation presents objects and works of art that bear witness to efforts to erase, displace and silence peoples. The diverse works open conversations around historical acts of violence, mass displacement and the erasure of culture, from an ancient Assyrian relief depicting deportation of the Babylonians to Good Hope Road (1945) by Armenian genocide survivor Arshile Gorky. A highlight is a 19th-century Chinese altar vase painted over during China’s Cultural Revolution with characters praising Mao, protecting the object by disguising it in plain sight. Also included are such powerful works as J. M. W. Turner’s famed Slave Ship (1840), which captures the horror of the transatlantic slave trade, and Every One #2 (1994), French artist Sophie Ristelheuber’s photographic response to violence in the former Yugoslavia.
Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery
through July 30, 2017
The exhibition pairs Derek Jarman’s final feature-length film Blue (1993) with Mark Bradford’s video installation Spiderman (2015)—both riveting first-person accounts of the AIDS crisis that are distinctly subjective, lyrical, humorous and dark. Through imageless projection and bold voiceovers, they both expose and defy the forces that have marginalized queer bodies since the 1980s. Best known for directing dozens of films, documentary shorts, music videos and experimental features, Derek Jarman (1942–1994, based in London) was a white artist outspoken about HIV awareness who completed Blue the year before his death from AIDS-related complications. Projecting a static screen of French artist Yves Klein’s patented blue hue, the film is narrated by Jarman, as well as actors Tilda Swinton, Nigel Terry and John Quentin. The script includes Jarman’s musings on the meaning of the color blue as “darkness made visible,” his fading eyesight and other facets of his terminal illness. Such personal commentary also forms the basis of Spiderman, a recent MFA acquisition, in which Mark Bradford (born 1961, based in Los Angeles) takes on the role of a black transgender comic who is heard, but not seen in a room with a red spotlight. As a gay black man, Bradford evokes comedian Eddie Murphy’s controversial Delirious routine from 1983, which is rife with explicitly homophobic jokes, to deliver a searing monologue on the intersecting issues of race, gender identity and sexuality. Seen together for the first time, Blue and Spiderman enact defiant emotional responses that channel both the personal fears and public phobias associated with the AIDS crisis.
Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
through July 30, 2017
Two parallel installations present key works and recent acquisitions from the MFA’s contemporary collection. Political Intent explores how artists creatively visualize social issues to generate awareness, discourse or action. Scrolling texts composed by Jenny Holzer and performances at Amalia Pica’s Now Speak! (2011) lectern showcase the power of unique voices and viewpoints. Bold portraits by Andrea Bowers, Zanele Muholi and Patty Chang affirm complex identities, while works by Ana Mendieta and Azra Akšamija show how female presence can transform a site. Kara Walker’s black-and-white cut-paper silhouettes hint that tensions from times of slavery still reverberate today. This deliberate selection of contemporary artists is paired with historical works that open dialogues around the role of women in political imagery across centuries. In-gallery conversations, as well as prompts on the MFA’s website and social media channels, highlight works from the Museum’s collection and invite visitors to discuss the longstanding influence of politics on creative expression.
Beyond Limits features abstract works that extend beyond traditional edges—stretching imagery, materials and metaphors. Carmen Herrera’s Blanco y Verde (#1) (1962) visually splits the square form, while Eugenio Espinoza’s Untitled (1976/2016) slices a grid to open the rigid composition. Ernesto Neto and Jeffrey Gibson pull weighty surfaces into ethereal-spanning compositions and Mark Bradford creates lined patterns that echo deeper political ideas. Whether optically or physically, works on view activate the surrounding space.
The thematic installations are complemented by provocative pairings of Mona Hatoum’s Grater Divide (2002) and Andy Warhol’s Red Disaster (1963, 1985), as well as recent acquisitions by Wendy Jacob and Yoan Capote.
Made posssible through the generous support of the Trust Family Contemporary Exhibitions Fund.
Mary Stamas Gallery and Frances Vrachos Gallery
through August 6, 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.
Japanese Print Gallery
through August 20, 2017
This exhibition surveys the changing image of Japanese women in prints, book illustrations and photographs made in Japan throughout the 1890s–1930s. During this crucial period of rapid modernization, traditional ideas of ideal beauty and behavior intermingled with imported styles and concepts. Around 50 works arranged in roughly chronological order begin with ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the late Meiji era (1868–1912) and select postcards that include both photographs and artists’ depictions. A recent gift of kuchi-e prints—color woodblock frontispieces for books of the 1900s and 1910s, usually romantic fiction—makes up the core of the exhibition. Shin hanga prints from the 1910s and 1930s are also featured, depicting beautiful women in both traditional and modern styles. The works in the exhibition can be interpreted in several ways: as glamorized reflections of Japanese women’s lives during a time of rapid social change; as idealized expressions of heterosexual male desire; and as metaphorical images of Japan itself, with the young women standing in for their entire country and its search for national identity. Presented with support from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Exhibition Fund.
Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria
June 17–September 4, 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.”
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.
June 17–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.
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.
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.
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.
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.