October 26, 2019–March 12, 2020

Contemporary Art: Five Propositions

Reconsidering the MFA’s contemporary collection

Museum collections are shaped over time by many people with individual perspectives. Through five thematic groupings, this exhibition seeks to rethink the stories that can be told with the MFA’s collection of contemporary art. The groupings address a range of topics, including artistic process, complex relationships between humans and the natural world, the body, materials, identity, and notions of utopia. Sidestepping traditional art historical narratives, the installation pinpoints certain strengths—and, in doing so, sometimes reveals the blind spots—of the MFA’s collection of contemporary art.

Works created as long ago as 1899 join those made as recently as 2019; many that have not been on view in years—or ever—are juxtaposed with recent acquisitions and key loans from private collections, as well as cornerstones of the Museum’s holdings. Highlights include a newly commissioned, site-specific installation by Lucy Dodd; recently acquired works by Simone Leigh, Julia Phillips, Odilon Redon, Vivian Suter, and Cecilia Vicuña; and rarely shown objects from the MFA’s holdings by pivotal yet under-recognized artists like Frank Bowling, Joan Brown, Georg Herold, and Bob Thompson.

Together, the five groupings explore some of many ways to think about the MFA’s collection of contemporary art in the present, and challenge us to consider new possibilities for its future growth and interpretation.

On view on Level 2 of the Linde Family Wing

Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery (Gallery 259), John F. Cogan, Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Gallery (Gallery 260), Jeanne and Stokley Towles Gallery (Gallery 261), Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Gallery (Gallery 262), Ives Family Gallery (Gallery 263)

  • Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art


Generously supported by the Callaghan Family Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions. Additional support from The Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund, and the Diane Krane Family and Jonathan and Gina Krane Family Fund.