September 16, 2011
It is a good weekend for a trip into Boston. The Museum of Fine Arts’ new Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art opens tomorrow with ticketed parties beginning at 7 PM, 11 PM, and 3 AM. Sunday, the museum is open to the public from 7 AM to 7 PM — for free!
No matter what your taste in contemporary art, there should be much among the wide assortment of works in the seven new galleries for you to enjoy.
The entrance to the wing is impressive. The vaulted ceiling is alive with high-flying figures by Jonathan Borofsky. Titled “I Dreamed I Could Fly,” the figures were made especially for this wide open space and are intended to convey a sense of equality and harmony. “They see and feel that human beings are all connected together and that we are all one–no divisions and no walls.”
There are neon sculptures (wall art) around the space, stating, for example, “All Art Has Been Contemporary,” by Maurizio Nannucci. There is a beautiful new gift shop with an extensive collection of art books and a new cafe and social area. The museum also encourages social media. The MFA recently began tweeting and encourages visitors to tweet about their visit. There is an online interactive magazine where you can learn more about the exhibit.
The featured exhibit is “Ellsworth Kelly: Wood Sculpture,” where 19 of his 30 wood sculptures (made over the course of 40 years, in a variety of woods) are on display. Kelly, of Spencertown, New York, is considered one of the most important abstract artists working today for his minimalist paintings, prints, and drawings, but his sculptural works have not received the same attention. This is one of the first exhibitions of his works in wood, which emphasize simplicity of form. He takes his inspiration from the world around him, the human figure, the landscape.
His “Curve XXI” is one of the most dramatic, measuring 14 feet across, inspired by the rolling hills near his studio.
Kelly, now 88, is better known for his large colorful artworks. One, “Blue Green Yellow Orange Red” (1968), is also included in the show, in an upstairs gallery. It is a large work, in bright, solid colors, cheerful and a simple receding shape. (Media representatives were given a bag of jelly beans grouped in these colors, and it looked like many more would be handed out this weekend.)
Upstairs are more galleries, including a video room where three short films may be viewed.
Art is always a matter of taste, and enjoyment of contemporary art is certainly subject to personal opnion. In other words, there is a wide display of artworks here, and you may love some pieces, be intrigued by others, and be unmoved by others.
I tend to favor the whimsical in contemporary art, and the works that seek to make political statements. Among the pieces I enjoyed were:
“How to Wrap Five Waves,” by John Cederquist, is a light-hearted depiction of waves, in the Japanese painting style, tenuously contained in a top-heavy bureau of sorts. The waves in soft shades of blue, green, and gold are tied in boxes stacked on one another.
“How to Wrap Waves” may be found in the Peter and Daphne Farago Gallery of contemporary craft and design. The room contains 80 works in ceramics, wood, metal, glass, and fiber from the 20th and 21st centuries from the Daphne Farago collection. This is a beautiful collection, and well worth a look.
Rudy Autio’s “Messelshell Vessel,” of glazed and incised stoneware, is one of many vessels he created depicting intertwined women and horses. He began making these forms in the 1960s.
This jar by Michael Frimkess, with drawings by his wife, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, is called “Blues for Dr. Banks.” Frimkess was briefly a professional jazz musician, and this jar was created for a pediatrician who loved jazz. Shown here is trumpeter Miles Davis. Also pictured are singers Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughn.
In a room set off by silver and blue beaded curtains by Felix Gonzalez-Torres is another collection of artworks, the Ives Family Collection. Here, the physical form is explored. Eva Hild’s clay “Sinuous,” is graceful and flowing, a fluid concept of shape.
In the same room, is Pablo Picasso’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” 1965, a statement against violence and dominance. Picasso’s work was described at the time as “a profound break with the past,” and it is included in this collection to show that yet another “profound break with the past” is underway.
“Sound Suit,” by Nick Cave, made of fabric with applique, found sequined materials, beading, crocheted and knitted yarns. Cave is a dancer and creates sound suits that he actually dances in, accompanied by the sound of the costume. “The elongated headdress and obscured face transform the wearer into a dazzling otherworldly creature.”
Nearby was “Grater Divide,” by Mona Hatoum, a room-divider size cheese grater, opened to show three panels. Though perhaps not a room divider for every home, it brings a smile.
Lovely to look at and intriguing to behold is Josiah McElheny’s “Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism,” a large cube with views of glass bottles, their images stretching to infinity. McElheny blows the glass bottles and the mirrors to create the illusions. The mirrors reflect only the bottles, not the curious visitors.
Kate Gilmore’s 8-minute film, “Blood from a Stone,” shows a daintily dressed woman hauling heavy (75 pound) white cubes to a series of shelves above her head. Once placed, the boxes begin to drip white paint, creating their own artistic expression. The film represents women’s struggles, and evokes similar films of difficult tasks by women artists of the 1970s.
There is much, much more. For a preview visit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.