Director’s Message

Dear Friends,

I hope you will agree: it’s time to visit the MFA! You will find here a fresh group of exhibitions and displays, exciting collaborations and discoveries, reexamination of masterworks and master makers, fashion visionaries and rule breakers, and above all a place to come together and share and explore ideas and identity through art.

“Frida Kahlo and Arte Popular” is a revelatory exhibition, showing the influence of Mexican folk art on the artist’s now iconic paintings, eight of which are on view, including Self-Portrait with Hummingbird and Thorn Necklace from the University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Center in Austin, as well as the MFA’s own Dos Mujeres. They are displayed along with ceramics, textiles, and all manner of handmade objects created in 20th-century Mexico, representative of the type that appear in images of and by Kahlo. This joyous, thought-provoking show illuminates the dialogue between Kahlo’s art, her political views, and her role as a collector and champion of arte popular and its makers—and of Mexican national culture.

In March, take a close look at boundary-pushing designs in “Gender Bending Fashion.” Featuring garments worn by pop-culture luminaries like Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Janelle Monáe, and other up-to-the-minute wearers and designers, the immersive exhibition explores the last 100 years of fashion that challenges—and transcends—binary definitions of dress. The exhibition is woven through with new narratives of struggle, defiance, empowerment, comfort, freedom, individuality, and nonconformity that elevate it beyond the runway’s glamor to a serious engagement with how we present who we are and how we wish to be regarded.

“Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” opening in early April, takes us to 19th-century Paris, to the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre, an enclave of pleasure-seekers, ink-stained critics, and acrobatic dancers, fueling the celebrity craze of the period. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was fascinated by the stars and their audiences in the clubs and cabarets, capturing it all with expressive lines and brazen colors in posters, prints, and paintings. Nearly 200 evocative works by Lautrec and his contemporaries are on view in the MFA’s Gund Gallery, drawing from the Museum’s collection and that of the Boston Public Library, a civic partnership that includes a range of public programs at the MFA and BPL and benefits to members of both.

April’s end brings the true sign of spring at the MFA—Art in Bloom, our annual magnificent three-day celebration of art and flowers, starting April 27. It’s a joyous event for the whole community.

We’re proud to welcome all of you to join us as visitors and as members—there’s a place for you here! I hope to see you in the galleries this spring.

Matthew Teitelbaum
Ann and Graham Gund Director