This neon installation by Maurizio Nannucci is part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. You can check out the picture below to see how it looks like on display today. Nannucci is an artist who works a lot with neon, but this piece is particularly striking to me because it’s self referring. It’s a reflection on art by an artist, and more specifically on contemporary art by a contemporary artist. Now for the backstory, I’ve been getting more and more interested in contemporary art thanks to my current job, and I find it interesting how simple it can be while at the same time conveying some important depth. All art has indeed been contemporary, but not all art has been called contemporary. Should we have a new designation for what is understood today as contemporary art or is that the job of future generations to classify it and figure it out? A lot of artistic currents in the past were self named and it’s not all a categorization imposed by art historians. So yeah, after all, a piece of art is something that should trigger some sort of thinking; and this is working quite well here.
This monumental sculpture by Tara Donovan is composed of hundreds of Styrofoam cups glued on an aluminium structure. It is attached to the ceiling in one of the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This sculpture is interactive as it can be perceived differently according to the space it is in and the changing light. It is very reminiscent of natural processes, as the artist says that her art “tries to mimic the ways of nature”; but at the same time it is made of a non natural material, which provokes an interesting dialogue.
I saw this woodblock print by Hokusai (from an ink and color on paper illustration) at the MFA during the Hokusai exhibition. This piece from 1833 struck me as my favorite among all the artworks that were displayed, so I decided to share it here. It’s still part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, as was all the content of this exhibitions, but it is not currently on display.
This painting by Ellsworth Kelly from 1966 consists of 4 panels of oil on canvas, and belongs to the collection of the Guggenheim museum (review coming soon), although I don’t think it’s currently on display because I don’t remember seeing it when I was there.
Note that Kelly had a reasoning behind his painting of solid colors, which is a composition he started experimenting with in the 1950s. For him, they represent the extracted essence of the objects he was painting. Instead of making a figurative representation, he broke things down to the most basic shapes and colors. These paintings also have a sculptural dimension to them because they have no figurative elements and therefore the focus is on their relationship to each other and to the space they are in.
The MFA has a similar composition (pictured below) from 1968 which actually inspired me to post about this one. In fact, you can see that the sculptural dimension is much more obvious in the second painting because the colors are not only arranged by their order in the spectrum but also by panel size.
This photo set by Gonzalo Fuenmayor was realized in 2014. Chandeliers were hung to banana plantations, lit, and photographed at night. The concept behind these piece of art follows from earlier works by the artist, examining ideas of identities and colonial history. Here, these ideas are taken even further as Fuenmayor combines the banana plantations, which are associated to a violent history; and the chandeliers as a symbol of luxury and opulence to study how decoration can mask ugly circumstances.
Again, these photographs are a social and historical study of colonial Latin America. They are based on the idea of contrast and harmony, and how opposing concepts can interact and complete each other. You can look at the rest of the set over here or see Fuenmayor’s exhibition at the MFA.
This stained glass window comes from the James A. Patten house in Evanston, Illinois; which was designed in 1901 by architect George Maher. It was originally in the Great Room, next to the fireplace, and it forms part of a group of three identical windows. The one pictured is exhibited at the MFA Boston and the other two are in the Met Museum and the Huntington Library.
This example is the only one I have seen in real life and I really appreciated to see it exhibited on a real window. Way too often, stained glass in museums is exhibited on an opaque wall which really doesn’t render the effects of light on the colors properly. That’s also why I chose to use my own picture here rather than the one on any of the websites that have one of the windows; but if you want to see it more in details you can just look up “Thistle Window” on the MFA’s website.
PS: I know this isn’t conventionally an archaeological object but I’m posting it in the archaeology gallery by elimination. And also because I don’t want to open an architecture gallery because it’s not really my thing and it wouldn’t be very rich.
This stunning oil on canvas by Martin Johnson Heade is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). It was executed between 1875 and 1883, and is part of a series of paintings pairing hummingbirds and orchids or passion flowers. The hummingbird was one of Heade’s preferred subjects, and they are almost part f his artistic signature. This style of realistic exotic landscapes allowed him to stand out among his contemporaries and are what make of Heade such a unique artist. I discovered him while visiting the MFA, but his works are distributed among several museums around the world, and I will definitely post some more as he is one of my favorite painters.
I saw this cute Ibis figurine on display when I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Don’t let the picture fool you, it is actually only 3cm tall. This figurine is made of gold and two different tones of blue copper enamels. It dates back to the 4th century B.C.E (during the Ptolemaic period), and may come from Alexandria.
The Ibis was an important symbol in Ancient Egypt; as it was one of the forms that the god Thot took, and the hieroglyph that represented him. Thot was the god of learning, knowlege, culture, and the arts. There are many known depictions of ibises as well as some mummies all over Egypt, going as far back as the Middle Kingdom.
This incredible sculpture is a blown glass and steel installation made in 2011 by American artist Dale Chihuly. It is currently exhibited in the Shapiro courtyard at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (check out my review here). This piece is over 12m tall, you can compare it to the size of the people in the picture, and it looks like a huge pile of leaves. I think it looks great where it is exhibited, it’s so eye-catching but without being imposing. Stay tuned for more work by Chihuly because I’m a great fan of his art and I find it incredibly impressive.
This artwork is a series of 35 oil paintings on canvas by American artist Ralph Coburn, dating to 1950 (approximately). The pieces are actually meant to be placed in any order and there are no specific instructions as to how they should be exhibited. I like the current display at the MFA, and the symmetry and regularity it gives off. However, this work is interesting because it allows for this versatility and different readings even though it is essentially linear. A different disposition would generate a totally different reaction and I think this is mainly what makes a work of art powerful.