Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment

(Saturday) (Sunday)

Which artists will stand the test of time—and who decides?

Why are some artists celebrated, and others forgotten? “Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment” examines a short-lived moment in the MFA’s history when it launched a trial initiative to acquire contemporary American art, reflecting a new interest among art museums in the US to collect and display work by living American artists. In 1941, the Museum established a “Provisional Collection” as a repository for contemporary paintings, allowing the Museum to hold works without adding them to the permanent collection until it could be determined that they had stood the “test of time.” By 1957, the last year of the venture, the MFA had acquired more than 150 works of contemporary American art as part of this mid-century experiment.

“Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment” features about 45 paintings and works on paper from the MFA’s holdings that were originally acquired as part of the Provisional Collection, many of which are on view for the first time in decades. Ranging widely in style and genre—from landscapes and still lifes to social realist scenes and works that experiment with unusual materials and techniques—these paintings provide a counterpoint to art historical narratives that frame the 1940s and 1950s as a period dominated by Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition features artists such as Isabel Bishop, Hyman Bloom, Darrel Austin, Marsden Hartley, Fannie Hillsmith, Edward Melcarth, Florine Stettheimer, Joseph De Martini, and Andrew Wyeth—some familiar to museumgoers and others less known, even among curators and art historians. “A Mid-Century Experiment” explores issues of legacy and taste, probing how artists were perceived in their own time and beyond, as well as the role that museums play in the development of artists’ reputations and canonical art histories.

This is the second in a series of three exhibitions funded by the Henry Luce Foundation that will use understudied works from the MFA’s collection to address critical themes in American art and the formation of modern American identities.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
MA 02115 Boston
United states
617-267-9300
http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/collecting-stories-a-mid...

Selection of further exhibitions in: United states

01.11.2019 - 22.03.2020
The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York

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12.04.2018 - 08.09.2019
The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York

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15.03.2019 - 14.07.2019
Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and G Sts NW
Washington

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18.10.2019 - 09.02.2020
The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York

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14.06.2019 - 03.07.2019
School of Visual Arts - SVA
209 East 23 Street
New York

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01.03.2019 - 21.07.2019
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street
New York

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08.06.2018 - 20.10.2019
Perez Art Museum Miami - PAMM
1103 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami

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09.04.2019 - 11.08.2019
Mad Museum
2 Columbus Circle
New York

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01.07.2019 - 23.02.2020
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston

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03.05.2019 - 18.08.2019
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn

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11.06.2019 - 07.07.2019
School of Visual Arts - SVA
209 East 23 Street
New York

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19.04.2019 - 01.09.2019
Perez Art Museum Miami - PAMM
1103 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami

Read more >>
20.07.2019 - 20.01.2020
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston

Read more >>
04.06.2019 - 07.07.2019
School of Visual Arts - SVA
209 East 23 Street
New York

Read more >>
13.02.2019 - 15.09.2019
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston

Read more >>
20.07.2019 - 20.01.2020
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston

Read more >>
09.09.2018 - 30.06.2019
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale
1 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale

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07.12.2018 - 06.12.2020
Seattle Art Museum
1300 FIRST AVENUE
Seattle

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Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Main address: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 465 Huntington Avenue MA 02115 Boston, United states Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 465 Huntington Avenue MA 02115 Boston, United states Which artists will stand the test of time—and who decides?

Why are some artists celebrated, and others forgotten? “Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment” examines a short-lived moment in the MFA’s history when it launched a trial initiative to acquire contemporary American art, reflecting a new interest among art museums in the US to collect and display work by living American artists. In 1941, the Museum established a “Provisional Collection” as a repository for contemporary paintings, allowing the Museum to hold works without adding them to the permanent collection until it could be determined that they had stood the “test of time.” By 1957, the last year of the venture, the MFA had acquired more than 150 works of contemporary American art as part of this mid-century experiment.

“Collecting Stories: A Mid-Century Experiment” features about 45 paintings and works on paper from the MFA’s holdings that were originally acquired as part of the Provisional Collection, many of which are on view for the first time in decades. Ranging widely in style and genre—from landscapes and still lifes to social realist scenes and works that experiment with unusual materials and techniques—these paintings provide a counterpoint to art historical narratives that frame the 1940s and 1950s as a period dominated by Abstract Expressionism. The exhibition features artists such as Isabel Bishop, Hyman Bloom, Darrel Austin, Marsden Hartley, Fannie Hillsmith, Edward Melcarth, Florine Stettheimer, Joseph De Martini, and Andrew Wyeth—some familiar to museumgoers and others less known, even among curators and art historians. “A Mid-Century Experiment” explores issues of legacy and taste, probing how artists were perceived in their own time and beyond, as well as the role that museums play in the development of artists’ reputations and canonical art histories.

This is the second in a series of three exhibitions funded by the Henry Luce Foundation that will use understudied works from the MFA’s collection to address critical themes in American art and the formation of modern American identities.
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