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Advanced Exhibition Schedule

Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries

Dates

Court Ladies or Pin-Up Girls? Chinese Paintings from the MFA, Boston December 20, 2014–July 19, 2015
Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay: 100 Years of American Ceramics January 17, 2015–January 3, 2016
Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott January 17–September 13, 2015
Herb Ritts March 14–November 8, 2015
Hokusai April 5–August 9, 2015
In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3-11 April 5—July 12, 2015
Leonardo da Vinci: The Most Beautiful Drawing in the World
April 15–June 14, 2015
8 Brokens: Bapo Painting August 15, 2015–April 17, 2016
Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia August 5–February 15, 2016
Objects in Flux: Exploring the Boundaries of Craft August 25, 2015–January 10, 2016
Fashion and Technology September 8, 2015–May 22, 2016
Rank and Status in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer October 11, 2015—January 18, 2016

Current Exhibitions

Dates

Jamie Wyeth through December 28, 2014
Pure Souls: The Jain Path to Perfection through November 30, 2015
Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles through January 4, 2015
Goya: Order and Disorder through January 19, 2015
D Is for Design through February 16, 2015
Truth and Beauty: Pictorialist Photography through February 16, 2015
Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER through March 1, 2015 
Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen through March 8, 2015
Conversation Piece through March 15, 2015
National Pride (and Prejudice) through April 12, 2015
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection through May 10, 2015
Over There! Posters from World War I through June 14, 2015
Playing with Paper: Japanese Toy Prints through July 19, 2015
Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia through May 14, 2017
Landscape, abstracted through Summer 2017
Arts of the Pacific Gallery opened November 11, 2014

Ann and Graham 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

Court Ladies or Pin-Up Girls? Chinese Paintings from the MFA, Boston

Asian Paintings Gallery
December 20, 2014–July 19, 2015

Across all cultures, physical allure has been a central focus of depicting women in art. In China, the rich visual cultures of the region have produced many different images of women in accordance with the fashions, styles, aesthetics and concepts of beauty. Works that today seem to be modest depictions of beautiful women may have been considered highly suggestive when first created. This exhibition will include paintings, prints, posters and photographs of women by Chinese artists from the 11th through the 20th century, several of which have recently been reinterpreted as erotic, leaving other works open to reconsideration. On view will be one of the MFA’s great masterpieces of Chinese paintings, Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (1082-1135), as well as turn-of-the century hand-colored photographs of courtesans, 1930s cigarette advertisement posters, and 20th-century propaganda posters of female agriculture workers. Presented with support from the Rodger and Dawn Nordblom Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom and The June and John C. Robinson Fund for Chinese Paintings in Honor of Marjorie C. Nordblom. 

Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay: 100 Years of American Ceramics

Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
January 17, 2015–January 3, 2016

This exhibition explores ceramic art from the late 19th century to today–from the Arts and Crafts movement to Mid-Century Modernism to Studio Craft and Contemporary practice. Outstanding works that display the transformative nature of clay include objects drawn from the MFA’s rich holdings as well as a number of local private collections. The exhibition features more than 70 works–including recent acquisitions from the Daphne Farago Collection and The Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons Collection, given in honor of Jules and Jeannette Aarons–organized into three thematic sections: Sculpture and Abstraction, Nature and Landscape and Surface and Decoration. Many of the objects have never before been on display in a museum, with the majority making their MFA debut. Pushing the boundaries between functional and sculptural, the works demonstrate unprecedented experimentation not only with forms, colors and glazes, but also with the role of clay as an artistic and sculptural medium. Highlighting the connections between contemporary art and the art of the past, the exhibition explores each generation’s distinct style, examining how the potter has been redefined as an artist, and how ceramics have been redefined as a vehicle for artistic expression. Diverse highlights include The Pines tile manufactured by Grueby Faience Company around 1906-20, a Gourd-Shaped Vase by Gertrud and Otto Natzler from 1958 and a newly acquired porcelain sculpture, December (2013) by Cheryl Ann Thomas. Presented with generous support from the John and Bette Cohen Fund for Contemporary Decorative Arts.

Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott

Robert and Jane Burke Gallery
January 17–September 13, 2015

Gordon Parks (1912-2006), one of the most celebrated African-American artists of his time, is the subject of this exhibition of groundbreaking photographs of Fort Scott, Kansas––focusing on the realities of life under segregation during the 1940s, but also relating to Parks’ own fascinating life story. In 1948, Parks became the first African-American photographer to be hired full time by LIFE magazine. One of the rare African-American photojournalists in the field, Parks was frequently given magazine assignments involving social issues that his fellow white photographers were not asked to cover. In 1950, Parks returned to his hometown in Kansas to make a series of photographs meant to accompany an article that he planned to call “Back to Fort Scott.” Fort Scott was the town that he had left more than 20 years earlier, when as a teenager his mother died and he found himself—the youngest of 15 children—suddenly having to make his own way in the world. He used this assignment to revisit early memories of his birthplace, many involving serious racial discrimination, and to reconnect with childhood friends, all of whom went to the same all-black grade school that Parks had attended. One of the most visually rich and captivating of all his projects, Park’s photographs for the story, now owned by The Gordon Parks Foundation, were slated to appear in April 1951, but in the end were never published. This exhibition represents a rarely seen view of everyday lives of African-American citizens in the years before the Civil Rights movement began in earnest. Sponsored by Northern Trust. This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in partnership with the Gordon Parks Foundation. Presented with support from the Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Exhibition Fund.

Herb Ritts

Herb Ritts and Clementine Brown Galleries
March 14–November 8, 2015 

Herb Ritts (1952-2002) was a leading American fashion photographer of the 1980s and 1990s, known for his beautifully printed, formally bold and sensual black and white images of supermodels such as Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell.  In spring 2015, a new exhibition of the photographer’s work will revisit the artist, whose groundbreaking 1996 retrospective, Herb Ritts: WORK, remains one of the most popular exhibitions in MFA history. The Ritts Foundation has given the Museum a print of every image in the 1996 exhibition, and in 2007, supported the MFA’s first gallery dedicated solely to photography. The Museum’s Herb Ritts and Clementine Brown galleries will host the new exhibition, which will feature an array of Ritts’ photographs celebrating the human body and embracing the carefree California lifestyle. Media sponsor is Boston Magazine. With support from the Benjamin A. Trustman and Julia M. Trustman Fund.

Hokusai

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
April 5–August 9, 2015 

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was the first Japanese artist to be internationally recognized, and he continues to inspire artists around the world. As the home of the largest and finest collection of Japanese art outside Japan—including the greatest variety of Hokusai works in any museum—the MFA is uniquely positioned to offer a comprehensive exhibition of this remarkable artist.  Drawing from extensive holdings of paintings, woodblock prints and illustrated printed books, the Museum will showcase an array of works from Hokusai’s seven-decade career, including lesser-known pieces depicting whimsical instructions on how to draw, dynamic paintings on paper lanterns and elaborate cut-out dioramas. Also displayed are some of the most famous images in Japanese art, including Under the Wave Off Kanagawa (Great Wave) (about 1830–31)—from the legendary series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji—and the brilliantly colored multi-panel screen painting, Phoenix (1835).  Spanning Hokusai’s work from his 20s through his 80s, the exhibition will explore common themes through sections dedicated to topics such as landscapes, educational books, nature, fantasy and the “Floating World” of urban culture (including depictions of the Kabuki theater and the Yoshiwara pleasure district). Works that depict Japanese historical and literary motifs will be featured along with “perspective prints” that use exaggerated vanishing points in toy peep shows. An extremely delicate silk square of a mythological Chinese lion, likely used as a gift wrapper (fukusa), will also be included, in a rare public display of the fragile work. An illustrated publication will accompany the exhibition.

In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3-11

The Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
April 5—July 12, 2015

The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 and an enormous wave of water swept through towns in the Tōhoku (Northeast) region, destroying virtually everything in its path and irrevocably damaging the Fukushima nuclear power plant. This triple disaster was of such epic proportions that it became a defining moment for the people of Japan. A number of photographers felt compelled to record not only the events’ physical effects on the land, but also to interpret the overarching significance of the tragedy through art. This exhibition is the first in the US or Japan to explore the photographic response to these events. Divided into two sections––the first focused on the earthquake and tsunami and the second on the Fukushima disaster––the exhibition will include the work of 17 photographers, some of whom are among Japan’s most celebrated artists (such as Naoya Hatakeyama and Nobuyoshi Araki) and others who are emerging talents. Taken as a whole, their work explores the way art provides a powerful language for reflecting on tragic events and contributing to human recovery.  An illustrated publication will accompany the exhibition. Presented with generous support from Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne. Additional support from the Barbara Jane Anderson Fund.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Most Beautiful Drawing in the World  (working title)

April 15—June 14, 2015
Lois and Michael Torf Gallery

This exhibition features a number of the most admired drawings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), one of the world’s most celebrated artists. Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art, this entrancing exhibition explores the artist’s concepts of ideal beauty. Throughout his career, Leonardo experimented with three kinds of drawings: scientific studies made from life, grotesque caricatures of craggy faces, and the most beautiful faces of men and women that he could imagine. Because he left so few paintings, Leonardo’s drawings have been recognized for centuries as the deepest window into his thinking. The artist poured the full fervor of his intelligence and creative powers into the works on view, which offer a rich and varied selection of loans from Italy–primarily from the Uffizi Museum in Florence and the Biblioteca Reale in Turin. The Codex on Flight, an important loan from the Biblioteca Reale, features a newly discovered self-portrait from 1505. Leonardo’s works represent the culmination of the early Renaissance idea of beauty, and reflect his view that ideal beauty could be observed by study of the most perfect human features. Human ugliness also fascinated and frightened Leonardo, serving as a living contrast to his idea of physical perfection. The exhibition also includes select drawings by Michelangelo (1475–1564) lent from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, offering a unique opportunity to compare a series of these rivals' drawings face-to-face. Media sponsor is Boston Magazine. Presented with support from the Cordover Exhibition Fund and the MFA Associates/MFA Senior Associates Exhibition Endowment Fund. Organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary in Virginia in partnership with Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi.

8 Brokens: Bapo Painting (working title)

Asian Paintings Gallery
August 15, 2015–April 17, 2016

This will be the first ever exhibition dedicated to bapo painting, a revolutionary artistic genre that emerged in China during the mid-19th century. Bapo ("eight brokens") paintings, created with Chinese ink and colors on paper or silk, are startlingly realistic trompe-l’oeil depictions of damaged cultural ephemera––worm-eaten calligraphies, partial book pages, burned paintings, remnants of rubbings and torn-open letters––usually arranged in a haphazard, collage-like composition. 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 re-discovered by contemporary artists and collectors. This exhibition will present some of the finest examples of bapo paintings (dating to the early 19th century) as well as contemporary work by artists such as Geng Xuezhi, including several new acquisitions and loans from museums and private collections located in the United States, Europe and China. Paintings will be interspersed with three-dimensional decorative and functional objects that display bapo imagery, such as porcelain plates and jars, inner-painted snuff bottles, bamboo, wood and metal carved containers. An illustrated publication will accompany the exhibition.

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia

Lois and Michael Torf Gallery
August 18, 2015–February 15, 2016

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia is the first large-scale, pan-American exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas.  Though this history is largely overlooked today, the Americas became a major destination for objects made in Asia beginning in the 16th century, and Asian influences can be found in places as far apart as Boston and Peru. Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonial Americas, this exhibition relates the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of objects from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics and painting.  Exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Quebec City, Boston, New York and Philadelphia, dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, include folding screens made in Mexico (in imitation of imported Japanese and Chinese screens), blue-and-white talavera ceramics (copied from imported Chinese porcelains), and luxuriously woven textiles (made to replicate fine silks and cottons imported from China and India).  The timing of the exhibition marks the 450th anniversary of the beginning of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico, which was inaugurated in 1565 and lasted for an astonishing two and a half centuries.  The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by a team of leading experts.  The exhibition is made possible by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Objects in Flux: Exploring the Boundaries of Craft (working title)

Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
August 25, 2015–January 10, 2016

This exhibition explores a movement in “flux,” focusing on contemporary craft-based artists who are finding new ways to fully explore their disciplines. Featuring a selection of works from across the landscape of contemporary craft, the exhibition includes more than 30 emerging and established international artists, each of whom embraces and explores the increasingly blurred boundaries between art, craft and design. Looking to a broad range of materials and practices, the exhibition explores important issues including the connection between craft and performance; the role of new tools and materials; and the power of craft to interact with architecture.  As the first exhibition of its kind within an encyclopedic museum, Objects in Flux offers the opportunity to examine these works in proximity to historical examples in the MFA’s renowned collection. Featuring a variety of loans and new acquisitions, the exhibition demonstrates the vitality and viability of choosing skilled craft for contemporary artistic practice. An illustrated publication will accompany the exhibition.

Fashion and Technology (working title)

Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr. Gallery of Textiles
September 8, 2015 –May 22, 2016

The worlds of fashion and technology have always intersected. From the early industrialization of spinning and weaving in the 18th century, the adoption of steel for use in corsets and crinolines in the 19th, the use of synthetic fibers and plastics in the 20th, to contemporary trends in electronic and biometric clothing and accessories, fashion has been quick to integrate new materials and techniques. This exhibition explores technological innovations in print, cut and material in fashion objects from both the past and the present, drawing on the MFA’s collection and featuring recent acquisitions such as Giles Deacon's laser-cut silver metallic leather dress (Spring/Summer 2012), Alexander McQueen's photo-printed Angels and Demons dress (Fall/Winter 2010/2011), and Iris Van Herpen's 3-D printed dress (2013), which was a collaboration with MIT designer and assistant professor Neri Oxman.   

Rank and Status in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer (working title)

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
October 11, 2015—January 18, 2016

Organized by the MFA, this groundbreaking exhibition proposes a new approach to the understanding of 17th-century Dutch painting. Included are 75 carefully selected and beautifully preserved portraits, genre scenes, landscapes and seascapes borrowed from European and American public and private collections—including masterpieces never before seen in the US. The show will reflect, for the first time, the ways in which art signals the socioeconomic groups of the new Dutch Republic, from the Princes of Orange to the most indigent of citizens. Class distinctions had meaning and were expressed in the type of work depicted (or the lack thereof), the costumes, a figure’s comportment and behavior, or his physical environment. Arranged according to 17th-century ideas about social stratification, paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gerard ter Borch and Gabriel Metsu, will be divided into three classes—upper, middle and lower—and further sub-divided into eight categories. A final section will explore the places where the classes in Dutch society met one another. Additionally, 45 works of decorative arts—objects used by each class but diverging in material and decoration (for example, salt cellars, candlesticks, mustard pots, linens)—will be installed in three table settings to highlight material differences among the classes. The accompanying publication features essays by a team of distinguished Dutch scholars and exhibition curator Ronni Baer, the MFA’s William and Ann Elfers Senior Curator of Paintings.

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Jamie Wyeth

Lois and Michael Torf Gallery
through December 28, 2014

The first retrospective of artist Jamie Wyeth (born 1946) will examine his distinctive approach to realism over the course of six decades, from his earliest childhood drawings through various recurring themes inspired by the people, places and objects that populate his world. A member of a family of artists, including his grandfather, Newell Convers, “N.C.” (1882–1945), his father, Andrew (1917–2009), and his aunt, Carolyn (1909–1994), Jamie has followed a unique path, training with his aunt Carolyn after leaving school at age 11, studying in the New York City morgue and at Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory. The exhibition will include 114 compositions created by Wyeth, many in combined mediums, the artist’s preferred term for his distinctive technique. The exhibition will feature Wyeth’s portraits of subjects such as his wife, Phyllis; John F. Kennedy (commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis after his death); and Rudolph Nureyev and Andy Warhol; and places such as landscapes in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Tenants Harbor and Monhegan Island, Maine; as well as still lifes such as pumpkins (a fascination from his youth), and the many animals and birds that populate his home and surroundings. Organized by the MFA, and accompanied by a publication, the exhibition will travel to several venues. Jamie Wyeth is sponsored by Bank of America. Additional support provided by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund, made possible by a grant from Jan and Warren Adelson, Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey E. Marshall, and the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fund.  For more information, please visit our press release.

Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzles

Robert and Jane Burke Gallery 
through January 4, 2015

One of the greatest American draftsman and creative printmakers from the 1960s to the present, Jasper Johns introduced new conceptual ideas about representation into American art by focusing on signs and symbols that were inherently flat (numbers, flags, targets). His works often involve a playful dialogue between art and illusion, between three dimensional and flatness, between images and words. His prints are highly sophisticated variations on his paintings, and the idea of serial repetition with variation also plays a prominent role in his work. The exhibition will consist of 25 works by Johns, including drawings, prints and relief sculpture from both the MFA and private collections, such as 0 through 9 (1960) and Pinion (1963–66). Presented with support from the Bruce and Laura Monrad Fund for Exhibitions.

Goya: Order and Disorder

Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
through January 19, 2015

Spanish master Francisco Goya (1746–1828) was a perceptive witness to the human condition at a time of revolution and radical transformation in thought and behavior. As 18th-century culture gave way to the modern world, little escaped Goya’s penetrating gaze. This exhibition, built upon the MFA’s renowned collection of prints, examines Goya’s powers of observation and invention across the full range of his art. The largest Goya exhibition in North America in a quarter century, Goya: Order and Disorder will be shown only in Boston. Composed of 170 of his most significant paintings, prints and drawings, the exhibition is arranged according to the themes and compositional devices to which he returned throughout his career. Some 60 works from the MFA, including rare drawings and working proofs for prints that have not been on view in Boston since 1989, will form the core of the exhibition. These will be supplemented by important loans of paintings and drawings from institutions such as the Museo del Prado, the Musée du Louvre, the Galleria degli Uffizi, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art (Washington) as well as numerous private collections in Europe and the US. The full range of Goya’s creativity will be on display, from elegant full-length portraits of Spanish aristocrats that first brought the painter fame, to prints and drawings of beggars and grotesque witches. From the tranquil to the precarious and chaotic, Goya’s art made life and the conflicting emotions of the human mind comprehensible to the viewer—and to himself. An illustrated publication with essays by a team of leading experts will accompany the exhibition. Sponsored by Santander Bank, N.A. through the Fundación Banco Santander in Madrid. Media sponsor is WCVB-TV Boston. Generous support for this exhibition provided by Highland Street Foundation and the Thompson Family Foundation. Additional support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with the special collaboration of the Museo Nacional del Prado. Under the patronage of His Excellency Ramón Gil Casares, Ambassador of Spain to the United States. Generous support for this publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund, with additional support from Isabelle and Scott Black.    For more information, please visit our press release.

D Is for Design

Clementine Brown Gallery

through February 22, 2015

Design drawings, hidden treasures of the MFA’s collection, are the subject of this exhibition of 26 works on paper. Each letter of the alphabet represents a different artist, architect or designer. The surprising juxtaposition of unrelated but visually compelling works—many of which are rarely, if ever, on view—presents an unusual opportunity for visitors to engage with questions surrounding design. On view will be works from the 19th and 20th centuries, a reflection of the collection’s current strengths, along with earlier material such as an 18th-century textile design. Highlights of the exhibition include a design for a ring by the Arts and Crafts designer and social reformer C. R. Ashbee (representing the letter A), a design for stained glass by the artist and designer John La Farge (representing L), and an architectural model by the renowned 20th-century Italian architect Aldo Rossi (representing R).

Truth and Beauty: Pictorialist Photography

Herb Ritts Gallery

through February 22, 2015

Photographers known as the Pictorialists, who worked around 1900, were part of the first international movement in the history of the medium. Their mission was to prove the artistic merit of photography by strengthening its connections with the fine arts. Figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Frederick H. Evans, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Gertrude Käsebier, and Clarence H. White made spectacular images influenced by current art trends, including Impressionism, Symbolism, and the Arts and Crafts movement. This exhibition celebrates the MFA’s recent acquisition of four major works related to the Boston leader of the movement, F. Holland Day. His Seven Last Words of Christ (1898), purchased in 2013, is one of the most important images of the time, and will be prominently featured. A number of significant loans from private collections will also be on view.

Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER

The Henry and Lois Foster Gallery 
through March 1, 2015 

For the past decade, Shinique Smith (American, born in 1971) has been internationally admired for exuberant paintings, sculptures and large-scale installations that capture the power of human expression and resilience. Whether looping graffiti, calligraphy and vibrant sweeping strokes on canvas; or patterned clothing densely clustered or hung as human forms; her works reflect intersecting forces—of personal history, influence and energy. Shinique Smith: BRIGHT MATTER surveys 30 key works from the past decade while debuting 14 new pieces, including painting, sculpture, full-room installations, video and performance. The exhibition marks a significant return to Boston for Smith, who completed her masters in teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts (2000) while working full time with high school students. Her exhibition at the MFA will foster new connections to the Boston community, through free community day activities and projects with the MFA’s Teen Arts Council. Sponsored by Celebrity Cruises.   Presented with generous support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, The Contemporaries, and the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions. Additional support provided by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund, made possible by a grant from Jan and Warren Adelson. For more information, visit our press release.

Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen

Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr., Gallery 
through March 8, 2015

Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen features gowns and exquisite jewelry from the 1930s and 1940s—the most glamorous years of Hollywood film. The exhibition focuses on several major starlets of the period, including Gloria Swanson, Anna May Wong, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Joan Crawford, exploring how jewelry and clothing contributed to their iconic style. It also examines the differences between fashion and Hollywood “costume” by contrasting the off-screen clothing with more dramatic costumes created for the screen by famous designers such as Adrian and Travis Banton. Among the 50 works on view are a dress designed for Wong by Banton, and an aquamarine and diamond suite designed for Crawford. Also featured are clothing by Adrian, Banton, and Chanel; jewelry by Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin and Paul Flato; set and costume designs; and photography by Edward Steichen. Complementing these are additional period photographs, film stills and film clips. These pieces are drawn from institutional/museum lenders as well as from private collections, including that of jeweler Neil Lane. See our press release for more information.

Conversation Piece

through March 15, 2015 
Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria

In 18th-century British portraiture, the term “Conversation piece” originally referred to an informal group portrait staged in an everyday environment. However, the term quickly came to refer to uncanny objects that served as a launching point for dialogue. Contemporary works on view in Conversation Piece invite interaction by serving as platforms for conversation, featuring both loans and works from the MFA’s collection. By taking everyday objects as a starting point for conversation–such as a curtain, television, table or chairs––the works are designed to disrupt viewers’ expectations of what they would find in a museum. Two works of performance art, presented in collaboration with the Boston Ballet and Harvard University’s Cultural Agents Initiative, are scheduled throughout the run of the exhibition. Blurring the lines between art and everyday life, each of these works asks the viewer to reconsider the world around them through the lens of art. Included are performance, installation, sculpture and video by artists Sarah Crowner, Pedro Reyes, María José Arjona and Jaime Davidovich. An iPhone app by artist and filmmaker Miranda July–the first to be featured as an artwork at the Museum–sends a message not to its intended recipient but to the closest user nearby who will then deliver it in person. MFA galleries are a hotspot for the app, Somebody, which means they will be one of the top places to find “somebody” to deliver a message in Boston. Together with these works, visitors become the active subjects of a contemporary “conversation piece.” With generous support from The Contemporaries. Performance Art at the MFA is supported by Lorraine Bressler. For more information, please visit our press release.

National Pride (and Prejudice) 

Edward H. Linde Gallery 
through April 12, 2015

The American Flag, Stonehenge, Chairman Mao Zedong: instantly recognizable, powerful symbols of the nations that produced them. But what instills pride in one citizen may be a call to protest for another, or may represent a complex combination of thoughts and feelings. The seven works in this installation take a critical look at such images to spark dialogue around provocative issues of national identity. They challenge long-held assumptions about these symbols with a combination of humor, beauty and biting commentary, highlighting the close link between politics and contemporary art. A new acquisition, Jeremy Deller’s off-the-wall video portrait of British culture, English Magic (2013), is accompanied by works by Dave Cole, Burhan Dogancay, Matthew Day Jackson, Lyle Ashton Harris, Catherine Opie and Stan Nanchez. With generous support from The Contemporaries.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery  
through May 10, 2015

Lockheed Constellation. Burlington Zephyr. Lincoln Futura. These are just three of the iconic transportation vehicles represented in this dynamic and playful exhibition drawn from the extensive collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf.  Visitors can share Fred’s passion for the art and design of transportation, which captures the excitement that accompanied the simple act of getting from one place to another at mid-century. Nearly 90 works on view include scale models of planes, trains and automobiles, as well as design drawings, architectural renderings and posters—many created by major designers such as Raymond Loewy, Harley Earl and Viktor Schreckengost. These transportation design elements—including experiments with aerodynamics, streamlining and color—influenced the larger world of art, architecture and design, and can be compared with objects found throughout the MFA’s galleries. Funding for this exhibition was provided by Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf.

Over There! Posters from World War I

Mary Stamas Gallery and Frances Vrachos Gallery
through June 14, 2015

Timed to coincide with the100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI, this exhibition features more than 40 wartime posters from the United States and Europe—including select examples from Britain, France, Germany and Russia. This exhibition is the first time since 1938 that many of the works will be on view, and marks the first display of the I Want You for U.S. Army (1917) poster by James Montgomery Flagg at the Museum, which was acquired by in 2009. Many of the works on view were used for recruitment and enlistment campaigns for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Service, while others depict appeals to buy war bonds (Liberty Loans), conserve food (from the US Food Administration), assist the Red Cross, donate books and maintain a strong work ethic on the home front (from the US Shipping Board). For more information, please visit our press release.

Playing with Paper: Japanese Toy Prints

Japanese Print Gallery
through July 19, 2015

By the middle of the 19th century, color woodblock printing in Japan was so widespread and inexpensive that it could profitably be used to make toys for children—which were no doubt enjoyed by many adults as well. This exhibition (one of the first of its kind outside Japan) features "toy prints" (asobi-e or  omocha-e ) such as colorful board games, paper dolls, cutout dioramas and pictorial riddles, as well as scenes showing how the toys and games were enjoyed. Thanks largely to the eclectic taste of William Sturgis Bigelow, the donor of over half of the Museum’s collection, the MFA has a fine assortment of these intriguing and unusual materials. In particular, a group of large paper board games by major 19th-century artists is presented in pristine condition. With generous support from the Dr. Robert A. and Dr. Veronica Petersen Fund for Exhibitions.

Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia

Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery
through May 14, 2017

The Museum’s world-class collection of jewelry from Ancient Nubia will be the focus of this dazzling exhibition in the Kaplan Gallery—one of only a few galleries at US museums solely dedicated to jewelry. The MFA’s collection of Nubian adornments is the most comprehensive outside Khartoum, a result of an early 20th-century expedition by the Museum with Harvard University. The MFA is the only US museum able to mount an exhibition devoted solely to Nubian adornment drawing exclusively on its own collection. Jewels of Ancient Nubia will illustrate the complex relationship which Ancient Nubia, located in what is now Sudan, had with its neighbors. As the conduit between the Mediterranean world and lands south of the Nile Valley, Nubia was known for its exotic luxury goods—especially gold. The exhibition will focus on excavated ornaments, dating from 1700 BC to the 300 AD, including both uniquely Nubian and foreign imports, prized for their materials, craftsmanship, symbolism, innovation and rarity. Jewels of Ancient Nubia will exhibit some 100 objects, including a gilt-silver mummy mask of Queen Malakaye and the famous Hathor-headed crystal pendantFor more information, please visit our press release.

Landscape, Abstracted

On view in the Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria, Level 2; Hope and Mel Barkan Art Wall; and Michael D. Wolk Art Wall
through May 30, 2017

The Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art has been revitalized as the Upper Cohen Galleria adopts a new theme: Landscape, Abstracted. Approximately 10 newly installed works are on view, including sculpture, installation, paintings and new media—all building on the MFA’s long tradition of collecting exceptional landscapes. Contemporary artist Jason Middlebrook was invited to paint the largest wall in the space, which measures 24 by 80 feet. Middlebrook’s signature patterning weds the geometry of modern abstraction with the lines of wood grain to “create a tension between something organic and something man-made.” Pieces that expand the definition of “landscape” beyond the horizon line include School of the Museum of Fine Arts professor Barbara Gallucci’s interactive  Topia Chairs  (2008) and Spencer Finch’s fluorescent light piece Shield of Achilles (Dawn, Troy) (2013). The Museum is also commissioning a new site-specific work by artist Anne Lindberg, which evokes nature by using only thread and staples. The rotation marks the three-year anniversary of the Linde Family Wing, which has reinstalled or rotated more than 80 percent of works on view since it opened in September 2011—including the addition of Liliana Porter’s seminal wall painting,  Untitled (Shadows),  Martin Puryear’s Confessional (1996-2000) and Anish Kapoor’s  Untitled (Shu-red)  (2007). Funded by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation in loving memory of Rhonda S. Zinner. For more information, visit our press release.

Arts of the Pacific Gallery

Opened November 11, 2014

The Pacific Ocean could be called a "continent of water." It covers more than one third of the Earth's surface and is a realm of thousands of islands—from Indonesia and New Guinea to Easter Island off the coast of South America; from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south. The works in this new gallery hail from the Pacific’s four main cultural spheres: the islands in and around Indonesia, Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. Reflecting some of the central artistic traditions of Pacific Islanders, the works on view attest to the diverse and expressive use of many materials and forms: sculpted wood and stone, carved jade, engraved bamboo, delicate weavings and paintings on bark and wood. Some of these objects were used in daily life, while others had ceremonial and ritual functions, serving as links to the ancestral or spiritual worlds. See our press release for more information.