Art may be timeless, but special exhibits never stand still at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. For all of you art lovers coming to Boston this season, here’s a preview of the late summer and fall special exhibits at one of the most prestigious art museums in the country. From fashion to nature and beyond, the content and aesthetic range of these special exhibits is the perfect mix to bring us into the refreshing New England fall. You’ll see everything from art nouveau posters to crushed velvet blazers at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts this season – so stop by soon!
July 16 – November 11, 2013
When I first heard about this exhibit, I was absolutely thrilled. Fashion exhibits seem to be in this year (with the “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago proving to be a wild success), and with this exhibit the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has really captured the aesthetic of an era. As you might guess, this exhibit is dedicated to exploring the fashion, style, and vibe of the most famous population in 1960s America. Through more than 54 different outfits, visitors will be able to learn about the range of materials, cultures, and visual elements that inspired 60’s fashion: from indie designers, all the way up the chain to style powerhouse Yves Saint Laurent. This exhibit traces the popularization of “hippie chic” through the patronage of rock and pop icons like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Cher, as their fashion choices inspired an entire generation of young people to explore new styles. One particularly brilliant aspect of this exhibit is the accompanying soundtrack; with songs like “Sugar Magnolia” and “Purple Haze” playing as you wander through psychedelic galleries, you’ll truly feel immersed in the Hippie era.
Audubon’s Birds, Audubon’s Words
July 27, 2013 – May 11, 2014
This is one for the nature lovers. John James Audubon was one of the earliest pioneers in American natural history, a man who spent decades of his life roaming the continent in search of his beloved birds. He’s best known for the masterpiece “The Birds of America,” an oversized volume filled with lush illustrations of North American birds in their natural habitats (seriously oversized – some of the prints are nearly 3 feet tall). It was a specialty book in the early nineteenth century, and only 120 copies exist today – one of which is owned by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibit highlights key prints from that original work, in addition other drawings by Audubon. It was common practice for artists exploring natural history to write a little bit about the subject of their sketches or paintings; Audubon is known for being particularly talented with his pen in addition to his skill with drawings. Each of these sketches in this exhibit preserves his words and his images together – giving visitors a glimpse of how readers of the original volume would have seen his work.
Rembrandt the Etcher
August 10, 2013 – February 17, 2014
While Rembrandt is perhaps best known for his contributions to the heyday of Dutch portraiture, he also played a vital role in the rise of etching as an art form. The artistic practice of etching is most associated today with pop culture arts like clothing design, album covers, and fine art posters, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was a revolutionary new technique. (Although, as any of you familiar with William Blake will know, it quickly became a popular art form across Europe and Britain by the eighteenth century.) Rembrandt was, in fact, the most prolific and talented etcher of the mid-seventeenth century, exploring everything from the use of unique papers to innovative inking practices. The 45 works in this collection are a representative simple of the range of his talents and subjects, including delicate Biblical illustrations, landscapes, quotidian scenes, and even self-portraits.
Holland on Paper: The Age of Art Nouveau
August 10, 2013 – February 23, 2014
Continue your exploration of the art of the Lowlands with a visit to this exhibit, which moves forward in time to the late nineteenth century and the flourishing of Art Nouveau in Holland. Representing 25 years of recent acquisition, this collection of posters, illustrated books, prints, and drawings is one of the strengths of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ archive. The 45 works in this exhibit include pieces by a variety of artists, from the famous Piet Mondrian – known for his stark, colorful blocks – to the lesser-known Theo Nieuwenhuis, best remembered for his furniture design. The MFA is particularly proud of the representative works by such newly discovered artists, as they reflect our expanding knowledge of the Art Nouveau movement in Holland. This is one of those exhibits that sends me straight to the gift shop for some representative postcards and prints!