New England: A Harvest of Museums
It’s harvest time in New England and not only at the farms and orchards. Area museums, too, have set out a bountiful feast.
New Englanders are privileged to get the first look at “The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), Salem, MA before it travels to the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in January. The extraordinary objects have never been out of China. Even travelers to the Forbidden City could not enter the pavilions to see these objects.
And what objects they are! Exquisite paintings, furniture, jades, cloisonné, and screens, among other works of art, personally chosen for his own enjoyment by the Qianlong Emperor, a connoisseur of art and literature. Since 1924, when the last emperor of China, Puyi, left and the doors closed, the secluded compound within the palace has been locked away.
An opulent show of a different kind is at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, through June 19, 2011. Legendary American couturier Arnold Scaasi, who has designed for first ladies from Mamie Eisenhower to Barbara Bush as well as such well known women as Hillary Clinton, Sophia Loren, Brooke Astor, Ivana Trump, Arlene Francis, and Barbra Streisand, among others, has donated his archives and 100 ensembles to the MFA. Twenty-eight of these outfits are featured in the current exhibition, including the seemingly see-through tulle pants suit that Barbra Streisand wore at the 1969 Academy Awards.
Can’t get enough of fashion? Visit the American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton St., Lowell, MA, where the featured exhibition, “High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture” will be on view through January 2011. (By the way, a boat ride on Lowell’s canals presents a new way to view foliage.)
Organized by the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum & Galleries, Los Angeles, the Bloomingdale show displays designs created in the Paris couture houses for one of America's most celebrated socialites, named to Vanity Fair's Best Dressed Hall of Fame. The exhibition includes ensembles by Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, and Yves Saint Laurent among other Bloomingdale favorites. Also on view, hand-drawn sketches, photographs, and magazine layouts of Bloomingdale wearing her creations to high society events, including the wedding of Princess Diana.
The museum’s new main exhibition, “Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time” is a journey through history, showing how textiles are changing the world, from protective clothing for firefighters and soldiers to revolutionary “shark skin” suits for gold-medal Olympic swimmers.
On Boston’s vibrant waterfront, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is showcasing the nine artists selected for the ICA’s biennial award. From large-scale photographs of the Peruvian Amazon to experimental films to installations inspired by 17th-century frescoes, the artists selected for the 2010 Foster Prize offer a wide-ranging view of the art being created in the Boston area today. The exhibition includes sculpture, installation, film, video, painting, drawing and photography and culminates in the selection of the Foster Prize recipient in December 2010.
Boston area colleges and university museums have mounted varied exhibitions, too.
The McMullen Museum, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA is exhibiting more than fifty compelling and revealing portraits of Irish writers by Irish artists -- paintings, sculptures, and photographs. “Literary Lives” combines visual portraiture with a wide range of rare books, manuscripts, letters, illustrations, and objects selected from Boston College's Burns Library to explore questions about the literary life, both personal and professional, and to reveal how different materials offer windows to different aspects of that life.
The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, will open two exhibitions that consider how artists approach the elements fundamental to life and art, water and paint. “WaterWays” will present pieces ranging from William Kentridge’s video “Tide Table” to works by artists John Marin, Milton Avery, Fairfield Porter and Sally Mann, among others.
“Regarding Painting,” the companion show at Brandeis, encourages visitors to look closely and examine paint as an act and as an object. It features such artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Max Weber, Agnes Martin, Willem de Kooning and others from the university’s permanent collection.
The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA launches a new exhibition, “Photo Clay: In the Picture with Warren Mather.” A technical innovator, Mather has developed a process for firing photographic, video, or computer generated images in glaze on a ceramic body. His large pieces create and reinforce the physical structure of a panoramic print in large discs of glazed earthenware. His images appear to emerge from the clay.
The Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, has mounted the first one woman exhibition by American sculptor Lynda Benglis (American, b. 1941). Bengalis is known for pioneering and challenging work that questions the rigors of Modernism and Minimalism by merging material, form, and content. Over a career spanning 40 years, she has worked in wax paintings and poured latex and polyurethane foam sculptures; innovative videos; installations; and metalized, pleated wall pieces.
Planning a foliage trip to a museum guarantees a harvest of good color indoors as well as outdoors.