I’m sure that most of us are familiar with the “experimental” nature of contemporary art. While some of these works are stimulating, when I consider the great paintings from the Renaissance or the Impressionists in comparison to conceptual art and other modern art movements, I sometimes wonder if figure painting will ever “come back.”
A visit to the art galleries on the second floor of the MIT Museum yields a pleasant surprise. “Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya”, featuring the photography of filmmaker-mountaineer David Breashears, successfully integrates art and science to paint a fascinating portrait of climate change in the Greater Himalaya region.
If you have not yet been to Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, now is the time to go. Thanks to street artist Swoon (Caledonia Curry), the ICA, or at least part of it, is temporarily festive. Swoon installed Anthropocene Extinction in its lobby just over a year ago, and the effect is still as refreshing as ever.
You may think of a painting as a work of art, but do you ever think of a paintbrush as one? What about music — you may think of musical pieces as works of art, but how do you view musical instruments? Are they just tools, or can they be works of art themselves?
“These images are probably the most acute examples of everything I cherish” is how Mario Testino describes his debut museum exhibition in the United States. On display at the MFA, Mario Testino: In Your Face is a collection of 122 photographs drawn from the last 30 years of Testino’s work.
Prints and drawings are two of my favorite art media. Something about them is deceptively simple — they comprise only a few dollars’ worth of graphite and paper, yet a priceless amount of artistic talent. For anyone who feels the same, or just wants to get out of the heat for an afternoon, three interesting new exhibits await you at the MFA.
The Silk Pavilion is a gauzy hemisphere of sparse silk threads, with apertures arranged in an asymmetric but balanced pattern and many small, dense, circular patches of silk filaments that were spun directly onto it by live silkworms. The scaffold is composed of several panels with irregular patterns of silk thread to support the silk spun by Bombyx mori, the most widely cultivated species of silkworm.
The walk from the Orange Line Back Bay station, down Clarendon Street, and to the intersection with Tremont Street, is a pleasant one. The street presents itself somewhat like you would expect it to in the North End. It feels old, solid, well-kept and welcoming. The atmosphere is curiously fascinating, marking the place as a distinct piece of Boston, made up of “neighborhoods” and the transitional moments between them. Culture Tap has been situated in a plaza-like wide sidewalk on one of the most delightful streets in Boston.
“What if Mick Jagger stopped singing ‘Honky Tonk Woman’?” asked MFA curator Erica Hirshler at the opening of John Singer Sargent Watercolors. By 1907, the renowned Gilded Age portraitist John Singer Sargent had effectively abandoned his lucrative career as a portrait artist in favor of landscapes and figure studies in watercolor. It came as a shock to the art world, as if Jagger had given up “Honky Tonk Woman.”
Red, the color of passion and emotional charge. That is what you see upon entrance into Sophie Calle’s Last Seen exhibit. Perhaps you may walk in expecting to see sumptuous pieces of art, rich in detail, with figures draped in the finest garments indulging in foods or acts that stimulate to the highest senses. Instead you see … nothing.
Hastily printed signs warning of bright, flashing lights were emblazoned across the doorways of First East for a very real reason. From fall semester through IAP, the residents of First East designed and built a disco dance floor, which we unveiled as hosts of the annual Bad Ideas Ball.
Sonia Almeida, a local artist originally hailing from Portugal, created the works displayed in the LIST Visual Arts Center to examine the contrast between how we experience color and our scientific understanding of the theories of color (though I’m not sure I would have figured that out without reading the wall text in the exhibit). This theme was expressed with varying complexity throughout the exhibit, as some of the paintings featured simple gradients while others used wide contrasts of hues and forms to speak to the interplay between art and science. While some of the compositions successfully questioned the separation between my understanding and experience of color, a few of the works missed this mark.
Are quilts fine art or folk art? The exhibit Quilts and Color, currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, invites viewers to answer the question for themselves.
From now until June 14, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is featuring an exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. In a more refined way, the exhibit is analogous to the behind-the-scenes reel of a movie — you won’t find his most famous paintings like the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper. Instead, the exhibit features an intimate series of sketches and drawings, ranging from portraits of women to the anatomy of a bird. Many of the featured works are loans from Italian collections, including the Uffizi Museum in Florence, and the Biblioteca Reale in Turin.
I had never been in MIT LIST’s project exhibition room before. It was smaller than I expected, and yet somehow this almost claustrophobic quality lent itself to Ann Hirsch’s work. The darkened room was illuminated by the screens dotted about the walls, and the tiny crackles from the adjacent headphones were sporadically drowned out by the main speakers. With white fur rugs and black bean bags on the floor, it was easy to attach oneself to a screen and become immersed. This learned transportational quality of screens — our ability to willfully submit to their immaterial reality and allow it to transcend our surroundings — became more visible and reflexive as I explored each piece.
While waiting for the train back to Boston last Thanksgiving, I was approached by a fellow traveler with a tragic story. He had lost his wallet through a recently-discovered hole in his pocket. Now he was stranded in the station with nothing. Would I be able to spare anything? Sure, no problem. I had $5. I would be glad to help out. Sitting on the train a few minutes later, I was kicking myself. Why did I fall for such an obvious scam? How could I have been so gullible? Weeks later, at an art exhibit, I found some answers. In the MIT List Center’s most recent installation, “I Must First Apologize…,” Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige pick apart the art of the online scam. Through a presentation of video and collected text, the duo examines the construction of fake online identities.
Depending on what sort of connoisseur you are, the neoclassical-like Beaux-Arts style of architecture that Despradelle loved would have either satiated your cravings for elegance and decoration, or disgusted the modernized MIT techie inside of you.
William Merritt Chase — does the name sound familiar? A late 19th century American impressionist, Chase painted everything from portraits to still life to landscapes. Right now, a collection of his work is on display at the Museum of Fine Art (MFA), and it has been over three decades since a collection of his work of this size has been presented.
The MIT List Visual Arts Center’s newest exhibition, Written in Smoke and Fire, feels as diverse and free-formed as the many sources of inspiration that artist Edgar Arceneaux is known to traditionally draw upon. A contemporary artist hailing from Los Angeles, Arceneaux often finds inspiration in history, science fiction, social movements, philosophy, and architecture, for the creation of his immersive installations that artfully synthesize diverse media like video, sculpture, and painting together.
For the next two months, the List Visual Arts Center at MIT is showcasing two exhibitions by artists located abroad that challenge and explore the perception of the mundane through photography, sculpture, and installation.