Exhibition Part of #mfaNOW, Season Celebrating Contemporary Art and Artists

BOSTON, MA (August 24, 2016)—Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Terry Winters: The Structure of Things showcases the New York-based artist’s creative exploration and expressive mastery of art on paper. Although known as a painter, Winters (born 1949) has also been experimenting with drawing and printmaking throughout his career, and there is a complex interchange between his works in all three media. His abstract imagery draws inspiration from a wide array of interests, from botany, biology and microscopic imagery to mathematical theories and engineering structures—unified by a profound belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of things. These are not literal renderings, but images transformed by the artist’s imagination. The exhibition features approximately 50 works—lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, screenprints, drawings and collages—drawn largely from the MFA’s collection of prints and drawings, and supplemented by major loans from private collections. Presented chronologically, works range from the botanical-inspired Dark Plant Drawing #16 (1982) to the complex-layered webs of Atmospheres (9) (2014), a recent MFA acquisition. Additionally, Winters’ fascination with theme and variation is explored through a number of series, including two portfolios shown in their entirety. On view from September 3, 2016–June 18, 2017 in the Clementine Brown Gallery, Terry Winters is part of #mfaNOW, a season of contemporary art, ideas and events. Presented with support from the Benjamin A. Trustman and Julia M. Trustman Fund.

The exhibition was organized by Clifford Ackley, Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Curator of Prints and Drawings, who has known and written about Winters and his work since the artist rose to prominence in the early 1980s, and Patrick Murphy, Lia and William Poorvu Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings.

“Winters’ works on paper in the MFA collection are a good example of our long-term concentration on an artist we truly believe in, getting an early start and slowly building an ever deeper collection of work that grows and evolves organically through constant innovation,“ said Ackley.

Winters’ works from the early 1980s are inspired by nature transformed by his imagination. The explosive Dark Plant Drawing #16 (1982), rendered with black crayon (paint stick) and charcoal, is not only the earliest work in the exhibition, but also the first to enter the MFA’s collection, in 1983. Morula III (1983–84), a lithograph from Winters’ first print series, is inspired by microscopic dividing egg or germ clusters alluding to the process of reproduction. The scale is intentionally ambiguous, leaving it unclear whether the work depicts a microscopic world or planetary bodies.

A later Untitled drawing (1994) is a more abstract image that suggests the circulatory or nerve systems of the human body. Both the earlier and the later drawing, with its energetic, gestural language, reveal Winters’ characteristic sensuous exploitation of his materials.

Throughout his career, Winters has collaborated with a wide range of print workshops, appreciating what each printer’s individual look or style brings to the final product. In addition to Morula III, the artist’s joint ventures with the New York-based Universal Limited Art Editions include the Folio lithographs (1985–86), coloristically one of his richest series, and Fourteen Etchings (1989, both Collection of Adrienne B. Torf), a series juxtaposing found photographic imagery with Winters’ own abstract drawings.

The Album etchings (1988) were created at the Paris atelier of Aldo Crommelynck, known for his refined intaglio technique and collaborations with major 20th-century artists, especially Pablo Picasso. Winters has also produced prints at Mixografia, an innovative workshop in Los Angeles, including the recent MFA acquisition Metal Virus (2003). Mixing ink with silver powder resulted in the print’s sheen and appearance of being cast in metal.

Two complete portfolios showcase Winters’ inventive experimentation with various printmaking techniques. Graphic Primitives (1998, Private Collection), a set of nine woodcuts, marks his first use of laser-cut blocks, giving his original drawings a smoother, more impersonal character. The series creatively plays with the relationship between positive and negative spaces—a similar approach can seen in the earlier Glyphs portfolio (1995, Private Collection) of six linocuts. In this instance, however, the linoleum blocks were cut by hand.

Winters’ more recent works feature abstract imagery inspired by the underlying interconnectedness and structure of things, expressed visually in the form of webs, nets, nodes and knots. In Yellow Stone (2010), a web- or net-like, negative linear design seems to be on the verge of dissolving or breaking down. In Atmospheres (9) (2014), a design of complex webs overlays an expanding giant orb or sphere.


This fall, the MFA presents #mfaNOW, a season celebrating contemporary art and artists, with a variety of exhibitions, events and programs. Exhibitions include UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991–2015; Christian Marclay: The Clock and Terry Winters: The Structure of Things. Two installations, Political Intent and Beyond Limits, present key works and recent acquisitions from the MFA’s collection. On four occasions, the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art will stay open after the rest of the Museum is closed for free “mfaNOW Overnight” parties, connecting visitors to art, culture and community in new and unexpected ways. On social media, #mfaNOW will encourage fans and followers to share their experiences and get the word out about what’s happening in real time—from film and theater festivals to panel discussions and lectures with leading artists, activists and change-makers.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its collection, representing all cultures and time periods. The Museum has more than 140 galleries displaying its encyclopedic collection, which includes Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am–5 pm; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 am–10 pm. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and individual youths age 17 and younger. Wednesday nights after 4 pm admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The Museum’s mobile MFA Guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit mfa.org or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.