* Bolded exhibitions are on view in the Museum’s Ann and Graham Gund Gallery.
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Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery
February 2–May 12, 2019
From 1948 until the early 1990s, the institution of Apartheid legalized the systematic oppression and disenfranchisement of people of color in South Africa. Twenty-five years after its end, glaring inequalities in wealth and access to power remain. This exhibition celebrates the identities of South Africans historically denied their rights: Xhosa, Ndebele and Zulu communities; women of color; members of the LGBTQI community; and rural citizens, among others. Many of the artists featured in the exhibition explore the way that clothing communicates identity, documenting the fashion choices of brave individuals challenging the social norms of their times. Others examine how clothing has been used to create or erase cultural identity, or to enforce class divisions. Made Visible includes photographs by Zanele Muholi, Mary Sibande, and Nomusa Makhubu; dresses from a five-year performance art project by Senzeni Marasela; a large-scale sculpture by Nandipha Mntambo; and documentation of works of performance art by Sethembile Msezane. The exhibition also highlights a number of recent acquisitions, including a 20th-century Ndebele beadwork ensemble, as well as knitwear designs by Laduma Ngxokolo that draw inspiration from traditional Xhosa beadwork as a strategy of celebration and reclamation. Together, these artists reveal the lingering damage of the past and make visible icons of a just future.
Clementine Brown Gallery
February 9–June 23, 2019
Bauhaus, Germany’s legendary school of art, architecture and design, was founded in Weimar by architect Walter Gropius in the spring of 1919. Gropius assembled an international group of faculty members including Josef Albers (German), Lyonel Feininger (American), Wassily Kandinsky (Russian), Paul Klee (Swiss) and László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian). The school relocated twice during its brief existence (to Dessau in 1925 and Berlin in 1932) before its closure by the National Socialists in 1933, but its aesthetic of geometric abstraction—and its stated goals of collaboration across disciplines and harmony between form and function—have had a lasting impact on the fields of architecture and industrial and graphic design. Radical Geometries marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus with a group of more than 60 works on paper—primarily prints but also including a number of drawings, photographs, and 10 of the 20 postcards designed by faculty and students for the first Bauhaus exhibition at Weimar in 1923. The objects on display are drawn primarily from the MFA’s collection, augmented with key loans from private collections. The recent gift of Kandinsky’s dynamic portfolio of 12 prints Kleine Welten (“Little Worlds”)—the artist’s magnum opus in printmaking—is shown for the first time. Radical Geometries is timed to coincide with a wide range of centennial Bauhaus exhibitions across the country and the globe, including The Bauhaus and Harvard at the Harvard Art Museums. A companion exhibition at the MFA, Postwar Visions: European Photography, 1945–60, explores the continuing influence of Bauhaus abstraction in the decades following World War II.
Herb Ritts Gallery
February 9–June 23, 2019
This exhibition looks at the work of European photographers who, after hostilities ended in 1945, chose to use their cameras to express their creative impulses. Some of these artists returned to Bauhaus ideas about art making that had been interrupted by the political repression of the 1930s and six long years of war. An influential center of this new work took place in Germany, where Otto Steinert, a medical doctor turned photographer, organized a group of artists who used their camera to explore the inner self through abstract imagery. They found intriguing patterns in nature and in the built environment, and they also took inspiration from mundane visual details of daily life. The exhibitions Steinert’s group held, under the name “Subjective Photography,” brought international attention to their approach, and inspired photographers around the world to explore elements of abstraction in their work. Postwar Visions: European Photography, 1945–60 investigates this rise of mid-century creativity in an assemblage of approximately 35 works. Steinert’s Luminogramm (1952), made by the light of a flashlight, captures the playful spirit of the movement. Other images in the exhibition are meditative observations of daily life, such as rain droplets streaming down a windowpane, a bicyclist gliding down a winding road, the gentle curves of a nude. The exhibition is organized into four sections—pure abstractions, still life, daily life and industrial subjects—and also features the work of Peter Keetman, Toni Schneiders, Mario Giacomelli, Nino Migliore, Sabine Weiss, Jean-Pierre Sudre and more. The photographs are drawn primarily from the MFA’s collection, with a number of significant loans from private collections. Postwar Visions is a companion exhibition to Radical Geometries: Bauhaus Prints, 1919–33, which explores abstraction in European graphic art during the interwar period.
Saundra B. and William H. Lane Galleries
February 27–June 16, 2019
Like many artists in Mexico City’s vibrant intellectual circles, Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) avidly collected traditional Mexican folk art—arte popular—as a celebration of Mexican nationalist culture. She drew inspiration from these objects, seizing on their political significance after the Mexican Revolution and incorporating their visual and material qualities into her now-iconic paintings. Following the recent acquisition of Dos Mujeres (Salvadora y Herminia) (1928), this is the MFA’s first exhibition on Kahlo. It tightly focuses on her lasting engagement with arte popular, exploring how her passion for objects such as decorated ceramics, embroidered textiles, children’s toys, and devotional retablo paintings shaped her own artistic practice. A selection of Kahlo’s paintings—including important loans from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin—is brought together with representative examples of arte popular. Bringing fresh attention to Kahlo as an ambitious, ever-evolving painter, this exhibition also opens broader discussions about the influences of anonymous folk artists on famed modern painters.
Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (multiple galleries)
March 21–August 25, 2019
From the runways to the streets, designers and wearers today are upending traditional ideas about men’s and women’s clothing. But these trends in American and European fashion are not new, and can be traced back to the early 20th century. This exhibition looks across more than 100 years of haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion that has challenged rigid, binary definitions of gendered dress. It features more than 60 boundary-pushing designs, presenting the work of groundbreaking contemporary designers—including Rad Hourani, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alessandro Michele for Gucci, Palomo, Rei Kawakubo and Ikiré Jones—in the context of historical trends like the garçonne look of the 1920s and the peacock revolution of the 1960s. Featuring pieces worn by actors, musicians and influencers, including Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Young Thug, the multimedia presentation also incorporates paintings, photographs, music and video. The works in the exhibition are drawn from the MFA’s collection as well as loans from museums, archives, private collections and fashion houses. Gender Bending Fashion examines a rich history of fashion disrupting, blurring, and redefining conventions and expectations around the relationship between gender and clothing. At the same time, the garments on view can speak more broadly to societal shifts across the past century—including changing gender roles, increasing visibility of LGBTQIA communities, and the rise of social media as a powerful tool for self-affirmation. In the galleries, individual narratives of designers and wearers emerge, touching on issues of gender identity and expression, sexuality, race, class, pop culture, activism, social justice and more. These topics are further explored through the perspectives of local individuals, whose experiences are documented in a digital interactive—a public engagement project that reflects and expands on the themes of the exhibition. “Gender Bending Fashion” is generously supported by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, the Fashion Council, and The Coby Foundation. Additional support provided by the Museum Council Special Exhibition Fund. Media sponsor is Boston magazine.
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
April 7–August 4, 2019
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901) captured the spectacle of modern Paris in evocative posters, prints and paintings. This exhibition of more than 200 works explores his extraordinary attention to performance—particularly the stars and entertainments of Montmartre, the bohemian center of Parisian nightlife. Using bold colors and radical compositions, Toulouse-Lautrec depicted the defining gestures, costumes and expressions of the celebrities of the day, many of whom were his personal friends. His images of performers—including cabaret stars Yvette Guilbert and Aristide Bruant, dancers Jane Avril and Loïe Fuller, and actress Marcelle Lender—contributed to their fame, distributed through prints and posters to an eager audience. The exhibition examines how Toulouse-Lautrec pushed his art in new directions to portray the celebrity culture of his time—equally fascinated, much like today, with the performers’ personal lives as with the roles they played. Thematic sections also highlight the changing social and artistic landscapes of 19th-century Paris and the contemporary importance of prints and posters. The display incorporates works by Toulouse-Lautrec’s contemporaries Edgar Degas, Honoré Daumier, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and others—presenting him in the context of his heroes, peers and followers. Organized by the MFA in partnership with the Boston Public Library, the exhibition draws on both institutions’ rich holdings of works by the artist and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications.
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery
July 1, 2019—February, 23, 2020
Stretching nearly 20 feet wide by eight feet high, Mural (1943) by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) was a breakthrough for the artist, representing a pivotal moment in his career and style—revealing, on a monumental scale, the artist pushing toward a new, expressive visual language. Originally commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her Manhattan townhouse, Pollock’s largest painting is recognized as one of the seminal achievements of his career. He described the frenzy of brushstrokes as akin to “a stampede… [of] every animal in the American West, cows and horses and antelopes and buffaloes. Everything is charging across that goddamn surface.” At the MFA, Mural will be installed with other works by Pollock from the Museum’s collection, including Flight of Man (about 1939), Troubled Queen (1945) and Number 10 (1949). Looking at the key role that Mural plays in the story of Pollock’s career, the exhibition will also explore some of the conditions and influences behind its creation. By examining what it takes to make an artistic breakthrough, the exhibition demystifies the creative process—looking at the artist’s personal experience and artistic output in the context of his peers, as well as the major ideas of his time. The MFA is one of the final stops on the painting’s international tour before returning to the University of Iowa Art Museum, which received the work as a gift from Guggenheim in 1951.
Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
July 13, 2019–February 23, 2020
One of Boston’s most compelling artists, Hyman Bloom (1913-2009) combined the physical and the spiritual in his paintings of human corpses, anatomical studies and archeological excavations made during the 1940s and 1950s. This exhibition of more than 40 paintings and drawings from public and private collections—including the Whitney Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Addison Gallery of American Art—explores the artist’s career as well as his constant interest in the body and the meaning of “still life.” These gripping and beautiful paintings are characterized by Bloom’s thick application of paint in jewel-like tones and his uncompromising observation of the lifeless human form, both as mortal flesh and as an incubator for new life. By their very nature, these challenging subjects invite consideration of the life, death and rebirth of Bloom’s artistic reputation, as well as the growing divide between figuration and abstraction at this defining moment of American art. Bloom’s Judaism, his deep interest in eastern religions, and his belief in reincarnation and regeneration add depth to the study of these paintings, which remain little known to many.
Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery
August 11–December 14, 2019
Presenting more than 100 highlights from the MFA’s recent acquisition of the Howard Greenberg Collection of Photographs, this exhibition celebrates photography as an art form as well as a social, cultural and political force. The featured works showcase the breadth of the collection, which encompasses iconic European photographs from the 1920s and 1930s and a range of socially conscious works: powerful visual testimonies of Depression-era America, politically engaged street photography, exceptional examples of wartime photojournalism, and compelling depictions of African American life from the 1930s through the Civil Rights movement. Photographers represented in the exhibition include Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Consuelo Kanaga, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Edward Steichen and Roman Vishniac, among others. In addition to exploring the historical importance of the works on view, the exhibition also highlights the rare nature of the prints in the collection—in many cases, the earliest or first print ever made of the image, the only print ever made, or the best existing example. An accompanying illustrated catalogue, produced by MFA Publications, includes illuminating essays by the curators and an interview with Greenberg.
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
through February 24, 2019
Ansel Adams (1902–1984) is the rare artist whose works have helped to define a genre. Over the last half-century, his black-and-white photographs have become, for many viewers, visual embodiments of the sites he captured: Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, the Sierra Nevada, the American Southwest and more. These images constitute an iconic visual legacy—one that continues to inspire and provoke. This exhibition offers a new perspective on one of the best-known and most beloved American photographers by placing him into a dual conversation with his predecessors and contemporary artists. While crafting his own modernist vision, Adams followed in the footsteps of 19th-century forerunners in government survey and expedition photography such as Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Timothy O’Sullivan and Frank Jay Haynes. Today, photographers including Mark Klett, Trevor Paglen, Catherine Opie, Abelardo Morell, Victoria Sambunaris and Binh Danh are engaging anew with the sites and subjects that occupied Adams, as well as broader environmental issues such as drought and fire, mining and energy, economic booms and busts, protected places and urban sprawl. Approximately half of the nearly 200 works in the exhibition are photographs by Adams, drawn from the Lane Collection—one of the largest and most significant gifts in the MFA’s history, which made the Museum one of the major holders of the artist’s work. The photographs by 19th-century and contemporary artists are on loan from public institutions, galleries and private collectors. “Ansel Adams in Our Time” is presented with proud recognition of The Wilderness Society and the League of Conservation Voters, made possible by Scott Nathan and Laura DeBonis. Sponsored by Northern Trust. Additional support from the Robert and Jane Burke Fund for Exhibitions, and Peter and Catherine Creighton. With gratitude to the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust for its generous support of Photography at the MFA.
Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
through March 10, 2019
The MFA opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876, in the midst of a watershed moment in U.S. history. While some Americans touted progress and industrialization at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, others struggled through the ongoing hardships of Reconstruction and the Indian Wars. During this formative period, the MFA became one of the first encyclopedic art museums to collect Native American art, representing both ancient civilizations and contemporary cultures. The exhibition examines this early collection from different perspectives, exploring stories of the communities of Native artists who created pottery, textiles and beadwork, as well as the MFA founders who collected such objects during their travels to the Great Plains and Southwest. Highlights include an early Navajo (Diné) wearing blanket (1840–60), a masterpiece given to the Museum by Denman Waldo Ross; a Plains roach, or headpiece (about 1880), given by Reverend Herbert Probert; and important Zuni pottery (1810–90) given by General Charles Greely Loring. A key centerpiece is the recently acquired “Progress Vase” (about 1875), made for the Centennial Exposition by the Taunton, Massachusetts silver company Reed and Barton. Featuring a dramatic depiction of the “Discovery of America” by Christopher Columbus, flanked by stereotyped Native American figures representing the “savage” and classicized figures representing the “civilized,” the object tells a mythic American origin story that is challenged by the works of Native American artists and their place in the foundational collection of the MFA. This is the first of three sequential exhibitions using works from the MFA’s collection to address critical themes in American art and the formation of a modern American identity. Generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Edward H. Linde Gallery
through April 21, 2019
With lush, deep colors and a whimsical playfulness, Jack Bush (1909–1977) endeavored to capture what he called the “essence” and “feeling” of what he was experiencing or observing—such as a beautiful flower or a piece of music. This exhibition features three large-scale canvases—two of them recent gifts to the Museum—that span 10 years of Bush’s career, from 1964 to 1974, and display the range of his later style. A onetime member of Painters Eleven, an influential group of Canadian artists founded in 1954 that worked to promote abstract art, Bush had by the 1960s established himself as one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists. Inspired by modern master Henri Matisse and American Color Field painters like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, he intended for his luminous abstractions to evoke the emotional experience of pure, joyful beauty. Shown together, the three paintings on view illustrate the artist’s development over the last decade of his life, and with their abstracted forms and colors, express the joy that Bush sought to share with his viewers. Supported by the Trust Family Contemporary Exhibition Fund.
Henry and Lois Foster Gallery
January 19–May 12, 2019
Throughout a five-decade-long career, photographer Graciela Iturbide (born 1942) has focused on capturing and understanding the beauty, rituals, challenges and contradictions of her native Mexico. This is the first major East Coast presentation of the artist’s work, featuring nearly 140 photographs that tell the visual story of her country since the late 1970s. Focused on the tensions between urban and rural life, human presence and nature, and indigenous and Spanish cultures, Iturbide’s photographs have contributed to Mexico’s visual identity while calling attention to the rich syncretism, diversity and inequalities of Mexican society. Organized into nine sections, the exhibition opens with early works, followed by three series focused on three of Mexico’s many indigenous cultures. Photographed over the course of 10 years, Juchitán captures the essential role of women in Zapotec culture. Los que viven en la arena (Those Who Live in the Sand) concentrates on the Seri people living in the Sonoran Desert, while La Mixteca documents elaborate goat-slaughtering rituals in Oaxaca, serving as critical commentary on the exploitation of workers. Thematic sections highlight Iturbide’s explorations of various aspects and symbols of Mexican culture, including fiestas, death and mortality, and birds and their symbolism. The two most recent series on view also relate to Mexico’s cultural and artistic heritage. They feature the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Gardens, representing plants—mainly cacti—in intensive care, and El baño de Frida (Frida’s Bathroom), depicting personal belongings in Frida Kahlo’s bathroom at the Casa Azul, which had been locked away for 50 years after the artist’s death. The exhibition is drawn primarily from Iturbide’s own collection and also highlights a recent acquisition of her photographs, the first major group of works by the artist to enter the Museum’s collection—35 purchased by the MFA and two donated by Iturbide. Loans from museums and private collections throughout the U.S., Mexico and France are also included. Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications. The exhibition is supported by the Leigh and Stephen Braude Fund for Latin American Art, The Bruce and Laura Monrad Fund for Exhibitions, and the Diane Krane Family and Jonathan and Gina Krane Family Fund. Generous support for the publication was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Publications Fund.
Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery
through June 23, 2019
As MFA curators prepare to mount the major exhibition Sargent and Fashion in 2021–2022, the Museum is offering a behind-the-scenes look at the process of formulating such a project—and asking for the public’s opinions. The Exhibition Lab considers a variety of questions that must be addressed for the future exhibition, co-organized with Tate Britain, which will unite the finest portraits by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) with representative clothes of the period. Using objects from the MFA’s collection, the Exhibition Lab offers visitors insight into curatorial decision-making about content, design and interpretation. The installation features the Museum’s Mrs. Charles E. Inches (Louise Pomeroy) (1887), displayed for the first time with the red velvet evening gown, later much altered, that she wore for her portrait. Other garments and paintings pose questions about the relationship between dress and representation. As they examine the works on view, visitors are invited to help consider options for display and in-gallery experiences by responding to questions and participating in pop-up focus groups. Supported by the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund.
Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery
through March 29, 2020
In the early 20th century, Boston boasted one of the most active and influential jewelry-making and metalworking communities in the nation. This is the first exhibition exclusively dedicated to the exemplary works of this vibrant and interwoven group of craftspeople—many of them women, who were offered unprecedented opportunities in education, training and patronage. Sharing a belief in the ideals of the international Arts and Crafts philosophy, the tight-knit community favored an aesthetic noted for uniting design and handcraftsmanship as well as for its use of color and precious materials. The exhibition features more than 70 works by 14 artists, including jewelry, tableware, decorative accessories and design drawings. Shown together, as they would have been at the time of their creation, the objects invite visitors to explore the philosophy and artistry of the Arts and Crafts movement in Boston, as well as the stories of their makers and owners. Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork is accompanied by a complementary installation in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing and an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications. Presented with support from the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, Inc. / Susan B. Kaplan, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, and Dyann and Peter Wirth.
Walter Ames Compton, MD Gallery
through June 30, 2020
Visitors have the rare opportunity to observe while seven important Japanese Buddhist sculptures are conserved by MFA Objects Conservators. The objects of worship—dating from the 9th to the 12th centuries—depict Buddhas, Guardian Kings and a Wisdom King. An entire gallery in the Museum’s Art of Asia Wing is being converted into a public Conservation in Action lab where conservators will carefully clean the wooden sculptures—all decorated with polychromy or gilding—and secure areas of loose paint, lacquer and gilding. This new setting will also allow conservators and curators to look closely at the sculptures with the Museum’s research scientists, identifying the original artists’ materials, documenting early restorations and collaborating with wood anatomists in Japan to confirm the wood identifications. Also on view in the gallery are three additional sculptures that show different examples of sculptural techniques and styles. In 2020, the seven sculptures will return to the MFA’s refurbished Buddhist Temple Room, which was designed in 1909 and evokes the dignified simplicity of Japanese temples.