* Bolded exhibitions are on view in the Museum’s Ann and Graham Gund Gallery.
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Upcoming Exhibitions and New Galleries
Bernard and Barbara Stern Shapiro Gallery
May 4, 2019–March 8, 2020
Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment examines a short-lived moment in the Museum’s history, a time when it was aligned with a new interest among art museums in the U.S. to collect and display work by living American artists. Beginning in 1941, the MFA launched a trial initiative to collect contemporary American art, establishing a “Provisional Collection” in which paintings would be held until they stood the “test of time” and would enter the permanent collection. By 1957, the last year of the venture, more than 150 acquisitions of contemporary American art had been made. This exhibition features approximately 45 paintings and works on paper from the MFA’s holdings that were originally acquired as part of the Provisional Collection, many of which are on view for the first time in decades. Ranging widely in style and genre—from landscapes and still lifes to social realist scenes and works that experiment with unusual materials and techniques—these paintings often provide a counterpoint to art historical narratives that now frame the 1940s and 1950s as a period dominated by Abstract Expressionism. Featured artists include Isabel Bishop, Hyman Bloom, Lyonel Feininger, Marsden Hartley, Fannie Louise Hillsmith, Joseph Hirsch, Edward Melcarth, Florine Stettheimer and Andrew Wyeth—some familiar to museumgoers and others less known, even among curators and art historians. The show explores issues of legacy and taste, probing how artists were perceived in their own time and beyond, as well as the role that museums play in the development of artists’ reputations and canonical art histories. This is the second in a series of three exhibitions funded by the Henry Luce Foundation that will use understudied works from the MFA’s collection to address critical themes in American art and the formation of modern American identities.
Edward H. Linde Gallery
May 18–October 13, 2019
Over a seven-month period, approximately 100 young artists from the MFA’s 10 Community Arts Initiative (CAI) partners in the Boston area collaborated with artist and educator Sneha Shrestha to create a wall mural inspired by mandalas, or graphic symbols used to aid in meditation, modeled after Japanese Star Mandalas from the Kamakura period. Inspired by cultural practices of her native Nepal, Shrestha’s Mindful Mandalas mural project invited children to process their thoughts and feelings with the goal of finding inner peace through reflection, meditation and the contemplation of selected artworks at the MFA, including Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (1905) and Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Compassion (early 12th century). Inspired by the process of close looking, the children then painted their own mandalas. Mindful Mandalas presents the young artists’ work mounted within three large-scale mandalas, each 12 feet tall and painted by Shrestha. The exhibition also features related contemporary works from the MFA’s collection, as well as a video documenting the creation of the mandalas. This installation marks the 14th year of the Community Arts Initiative, through which the Museum partners with community organizations to introduce kids ages 6 to 12 to the MFA’s collections and the art-making process. Through the CAI, the Museum is proud to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester; the West End House Boys and Girls Club of Allston-Brighton; United South End Settlements; Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; Vine Street Community Center; and five Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston located in Blue Hill, Charlestown, Chelsea, Roxbury and South Boston. The Community Arts Initiative is generously supported by the Linde Family Foundation.
Opening Summer 2019
Reinstalled and reinterpreted, the MFA’s new Arts of Islamic Cultures Gallery is designed to expand how visitors see and understand the diverse arts of Islamic cultures. Its thematic installation, developed through an intensive eight-year process of engagement with Islamic, artistic and scholarly communities, is divided into distinct spaces that reflect the richness of these artistic traditions. Some sections explore art forms that are integral to all Islamic cultures, like Arabic calligraphy, while others focus on unique visual traditions such as that of Ottoman Turkey or Mughal India. Still other sections delve deeply into the history of singular objects in the collection, such as a remarkable door compiled for the first American World’s Fair out of fragments of medieval Egyptian woodwork. The MFA’s collection of Islamic art encompasses works from countries of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, as well as works created across the globe within Islamic communities or societies. The collection was established in 1870, the year the MFA was founded, and has grown to become one of the most important in the U.S. Visitors to the gallery encounter work by contemporary artists and have the opportunity, through a multimedia display, to hear directly from them about their work and its connection to Islamic cultures. They are also be able to listen to audio recordings of Qur’an recitation created in partnership with the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, one of many local organizations whose members have contributed to the creation of this new gallery.
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery
July 1, 2019—February, 23, 2020
Stretching nearly 20 feet wide by 8 feet high, Mural (1943) is the largest painting Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) ever made, and it proved a breakthrough for the artist. Peggy Guggenheim commissioned it for the foyer of her Manhattan townhouse; in 1951, she donated the work to the University of Iowa. Today it is recognized as one of the pivotal achievements of Pollock’s career, the moment when he left figuration behind, expanded the scale of his work, and started to develop his signature drip technique. “I took one look at it,” the critic Clement Greenberg later said, “and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced.” The MFA has commissioned German artist Katharina Grosse (born 1961) to respond to Pollock’s Mural. Known for her monumental, site-specific painterly installations, Grosse is one of the most important painters of her generation. Since the late 1990s, she has been using an industrial paint-sprayer to apply prismatic swaths of color to a variety of surfaces, eroding the distinction between two and three dimensions to create immersive visual experiences. The unprecedented pairing of Pollock and Grosse’s work demonstrates how the artists have respectively transformed painting through their innovative techniques and approaches to color on a massive scale.
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.
Clementine Brown Gallery
July 20, 2019–January 20, 2020
Luminous and often haunting, Kay Nielsen’s interpretations of classic fairy tales are among the most celebrated book illustrations of the 20th century. Showcasing more than 45 dramatic watercolors, drawings and illustrated books from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection, this exhibition celebrates the Danish artist’s significant achievements in illustration while highlighting some of his work in theater design and animation. Born in Copenhagen and educated in Paris, Nielsen (1886–1957) gained international recognition for his exquisite gift book illustrations—most notably for his masterpiece East of the Sun, West of the Moon (1914), a collection of Norwegian fairy tales. In contrast to some of his contemporaries, Nielsen often focused on the melancholic or dramatic elements of tales, creating memorable visual sequences reflecting on themes of love, passion, loss and death.
Herb Ritts Gallery
July 20, 2019–January 20, 2020
This exhibition of approximately 35 works explores five photographers’ shared fascination with magic, fantasy and illusion. While different in his or her approach, each artist uses meticulously staged imagery to create fantastical scenes as a means of grappling with contemporary social issues—from the role of women in the Middle East, to the passage from childhood to adolescence, to global warming and climate change. Paolo Ventura (Italian, born 1968) employs the narrative framework of children’s picture books and stands in as the protagonist in his recent series Short Stories, created in collaboration with his wife and young son. Shadi Ghadirian (Iranian, born 1974) questions preconceived ideas regarding female identity and agency in the Muslim world through works like her Miss Butterfly. The series of black-and-white photographs is based on an early Persian folk tale with universal messages of hope, strength and resilience. Intimate portraits by Hellen van Meene (Dutch, born 1972) often focus on adolescent girls on the cusp of adulthood, posed in Vermeer-like natural light. Inspired by fairy tales such as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, as well as Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Van Meene’s photographs seek to capture the rich interior lives of her sitters, while also suggesting some of the anxiety and confusion commonly experienced during teenage years. Nicholas Kahn (American, born 1964) and Richard Selesnick (British, born 1964) have been collaborators for more than three decades, creating extravagant costume dramas, concocting detailed quasi-historical sagas and fabricating elaborate props for their cinematic visions. Their series Eisbergfreistadt (“Iceberg Free State”), inspired by concerns surrounding global warming, strikes a delicate balance between a fictional narrative and a seemingly “straight” style of documentary photography. Make Believe is a companion exhibition to Kay Nielsen’s Enchanted Vision: The Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection, which features celebrated interpretations of classic fairy tales by 20th-century Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen.
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
October 13, 2019–January 20, 2020
Ancient Nubia—located in today’s southern Egypt and northern Sudan—was home to a series of dynamic civilizations that produced towering monuments, built more pyramids than ancient Egypt and controlled a vast trade network that reached across the Mediterranean and far into Africa. Alternately conquering and being conquered by Egypt, Nubia has long been portrayed primarily as a colony of its more famous neighbor, despite Nubian kings’ control over one of the largest empires of the ancient world. Presenting this powerful African civilization in a new light, this exhibition of more than 350 treasures includes highly sophisticated examples of sculpture, relief carvings, pottery, gold and enamel jewelry, cosmetic items, furniture and religious offerings. Among the highlights are objects discovered at Gebel Barkal, the most important temple complex in Nubia, and royal cemeteries in all three of Nubia’s most important ancient capitals: Kerma (2400–1550 B.C.), Napata (750–332 B.C.) and Meroe (332 B.C.–A.D. 364). All of the objects are drawn from the MFA’s vast collection of Nubian art—the largest and most important outside of Sudan—mostly gathered during the groundbreaking excavations carried out by the Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition during the first half of the 20th century. Only recently, new scholarship and new archaeological discoveries in Sudan have demonstrated that Nubia’s authority reached much farther than previously understood. By presenting Nubia in the context of this new information, the exhibition aims to place this long overlooked region in its rightful place among the great cultures of antiquity.
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
through 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.
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery
through 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.
Saundra B. and William H. Lane Galleries
through June 19, 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.
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.
Clementine Brown Gallery
through 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
through 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.
Ann and Graham Gund Gallery
through August 4, 2019
A new culture of entertainment exploded in Paris in the late 19th century, a moment immortalized in evocative posters, prints and paintings by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901). This exhibition of nearly 200 works explores the artist’s extraordinary attention to the stars of Montmartre, the heart of the city’s bohemian nightlife. Using bold colors and radical compositions, Lautrec distilled the defining gestures, costumes and expressions of the celebrities of the day—many of them his friends—into instantly recognizable images. His incisive depictions 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. Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris examines how Lautrec pushed his art in new directions to portray the celebrity-mad culture of his time, which was equally fascinated, much like today, with the performers’ personal lives as with the roles they played. In addition to Lautrec’s formal innovations, thematic sections highlight the changing social and artistic landscapes of 19th-century Paris and the contemporary importance of prints and posters. The exhibition also incorporates work by Lautrec’s contemporaries Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt and Pierre Bonnard, as well as period films and music. A collaboration between the MFA and the Boston Public Library, Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris draws on both institutions’ rich collections of graphic works by the artist and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications. “Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Boston Public Library. Sponsored by Encore Boston Harbor. Generously supported by The Boston Foundation. Additional support from the great-grandchildren of Albert H. Wiggin, the Cordover Exhibition Fund, and anonymous funders.
Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (multiple galleries)
through August 25, 2019
Gender Bending Fashion looks across more than 100 years of individuals disrupting, blurring and seeking to transcend a traditional division between men’s and women’s clothing. The exhibition presents the work of groundbreaking contemporary designers—including Rad Hourani, Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons), Alessandro Michele (for Gucci), Walé Oyéjidé (for Ikiré Jones), Christian Siriano, Alejandro Gómez Palomo and Alessandro Trincone—alongside dozens of 20th-century garments from the MFA’s collection. More than simply documenting styles and trends, Gender Bending Fashion also explores how the garments on view can speak broadly to societal shifts across the past century, including changing gender roles; ongoing efforts toward LGBTQIA+ rights and racial equality; and the rise of social media as a powerful tool for self-expression. Throughout the galleries, individual stories of designers and wearers—many of them celebrities, performers and fashion influencers—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 Bostonians, primarily sourced through Instagram, whose experiences are documented in a digital album within 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. Hotel Partner is Mandarin Oriental, Boston. Motion graphics projections provided by Black Math.
Richard and Nancy Lubin Gallery
through August 25, 2019
Charting the essential connection between poetry and activism, this exhibition of works by Berlin-based artist Bouchra Khalili (born Morocco, 1975) bridges discourses of resistance from the 1960s to the present. Making its U.S. debut at the MFA, Khalili’s Twenty-Two Hours (2018) is a testament to her deep research into the Black Panther Party in New England and their unexpected ally, the French poet Jean Genet. In 1970, Genet toured the U.S. in support of the Panthers, delivering his first speech in Cambridge, Massachusetts, nearby where Khalili carried out a recent fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study at Harvard University. In Twenty-Two Hours, two young Bostonians, Quiana Pontes and Vanessa Silva, perform on camera in Cambridge, combining fragments of images, sounds, memories and film footage to retell the story of Genet’s visit and reflect on the civic poet as a witness to history. A former member of the Black Panther Party involved in organizing Genet’s East Coast tour, Doug Miranda, recounts his involvement with Genet and reflects on his own history as an activist. Additionally, the exhibition marks the worldwide debut of Khalili’s new short film The Typographer (2019), which depicts a letterpress that typesets the last sentence Genet wrote during his lifetime. Displayed alongside a take-away newsprint publication on Khalili’s practice and research into the Panthers, the film highlights the essential role of the printed word in disseminating revolutionary ideas. Together, the exhibition’s three components act as a meditation on the inter-generational transmission of history and the role of international solidarity in the continued struggle for equality.
Eunice and Julian Cohen Galleria
through September 15, 2019
Georgie Friedman (born 1974) stages site-specific, immersive installations that evoke the beauty of the natural world and point to the uncertain future of a warming planet. Through explorations of man-made climate change, her artwork addresses the effects of a global crisis on one of the most fragile landscapes on Earth. Friedman received a 2017 Traveling Fellowship from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, and voyaged to the Antarctic Peninsula to gain first-hand experience documenting the desolate beauty of the polar region. Sketches, video footage and photographs of the Peninsula that Friedman produced during her expedition are all integral components of this exhibition. A two-channel video piece, featuring gigantic icebergs floating out to sea, pairs incongruous seascapes to create a sense of unsteady footing and a desire to level the horizon. Friedman’s photographic typology of singular icebergs—from the enormous and seemingly insurmountable to the rapidly fleeting—challenges our sense of scale. Her constructed panoramic views present a fragmented relationship with the natural world, moving from a large-scale perspective towards an increasingly intimate view of the volcanic mountains, glaciers, icebergs and physical remains of the region. Across the gallery, kinetic sculptures that reference the shape of icebergs are suspended from above. The thin metal sculptures depict both the visible portions of the icebergs and also the 90 percent of each iceberg that is typically submerged under the surface of the water. Visitors encounter the sculptures from below, inverting our typical vantage point and creating a challenging new perspective of the icescape. The exhibition presents fragments of a shrinking continent and raises questions about the need to document an ecology in peril. Georgie Friedman: Fragments of Antarctica invites visitors to reflect on their own relationship with the natural world—and consider an ice-bound landscape under threat by sweeping global changes.
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.