“Political Intent” and “Beyond Limits”

August 27, 2016–August 20, 2017

Two parallel installations in Gallery 158 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. “Political Intent” and “Beyond Limits” are part of #mfaNOW, a season of contemporary art, ideas, and events.

  • Henry and Lois Foster Gallery (Gallery 158)


Made possible through the generous support of the Trust Family Contemporary Exhibition Fund.