Art Exhibits to See in Boston in Spring 2016

Highlights include 'Off the Wall: Gardner and Her Masterpieces' and 'Megacities Asia' at the MFA.

Forever Bicycles Ai Weiwei (Chinese, born in 1957) 2003 74 Forever brand steel bicycles *Ai Weiwei *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Forever Bicycles, Ai Weiwei, 2003. / Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston (More info below.)

Walid Raad

This season, the ICA hosts the first-ever comprehensive North American museum survey of Walid Raad, a leading artist from Lebanon. His work, spanning the mediums of photography, sculpture, video, and performance “investigates the distinctions between fact and fiction and the ways we represent, remember, and make sense of history.” Inspired by Arab culture and an upbringing in Lebanon during the Civil War, Raad’s selection features works spanning the past 25 years. Raad himself will give a 55-minute presentation titled “Walkthrough” in the gallery several times throughout the exhibition’s run.

February 24-May 30, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 100 Northern Ave., Boston,

Asia in Amsterdam

At PEM, go back in time and across the globe to Amsterdam in the 17th century. Due to its stature as the largest and most powerful trade and shipping company in the world, Dutch homes were full of luxurious imports like Asian Porcelain, lacquer, textiles, diamonds, and spices. With this as inspiration, potters, textile designers, and jewelers created works of art we now recognize as Dutch, and artists like Rembrandt and Jan Steen incorporated these opulences into their paintings. At PEM, enjoy 170 Asian and Dutch works of art and delve into the relationship between Asia and the Dutch Golden Age.

February 27-June 5, Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500,




A single room. A hanging cube. Floor to ceiling visual stimulation. Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha’s steel lantern is inspired by traditional Islamic architectural motifs and sends a message of inclusion and coexistence. [Read more.]

February 27-June 5, Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500,

Imagining New Technology: Building MIT in Cambridge

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of moving MIT from Boston to Cambridge with this new exhibition at the MIT Museum. Rarely seen architectural drawings, photographs, and artifacts will give attendees insight into the impact the design of the school has on Cambridge, through everything from physical to economic to social developments.

March 1-September 6, MIT Building N51, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-253-5927,

Generating Environments

Consider the intersection of modern society and technology with “Generating Environments,” an exhibition organized by the museum’s curatorial interns. A variety of media will be on display, including photography, video, and sculpture.

March 3-May 23, Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, 415 South St., Waltham, 781-736-3434,


‘Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice’ by Anders Zorn. / Image courtesy of the Gardner Museum

Off the Wall: Gardner and Her Masterpieces

This noteworthy exhibition features twenty highlights from the Gardner Museum, offering visitors the opportunity to view works of renowned artists spanning the Renaissance and Rococo periods such as Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, and more. In addition to seeing these works of art up close in the museum’s contemporary exhibit, archival material will feature Gardner herself, giving guests insight into how the collector was able to put together such a wide-ranging collection. [Read more.]

March 10-August 15, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 25 Evans Way, Boston, 617-566-1401,

Mountains in Snow: Rocky Mountain Paintings VII Lawren Harris (Canadian, 1885–1970) About 1929 Oil on canvas * The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario * © Art Gallery of Ontario *© Family of Lawren S. Harris *Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Mountains in Snow: Rocky Mountain Paintings VII, Lawren Harris, About 1929, The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario © Art Gallery of Ontario © Family of Lawren S. Harris / Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Lawren Harris: “The Idea of North” and “Modern Connections from the MFA Collection”

Lawren Harris is recognized as a pioneering modernist, who was largely influential in defining 20th-century Canadian art. As the first major solo exhibition of Harris’s work to be shown in the United States, these major paintings are a special addition to the MFA.

March 12-July 12, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, 617-267-9300,

Anthazoa 3D Cape and Skirt, Voltage Collection (detail) Designed by: Iris van Herpen (Dutch, born in 1984) Designed by: Neri Oxman (Israeli, born 1976) Printed by: Stratasys Group shot: 2013.1487.1‑2 Dutch, 2013 3D‑printed polyeurethane rubber and acrylic, steel cage, and cotton twill inner lining and silk satin lining *Museum purchase with funds donated by the Fashion Council, Museum of Fine Arts Boston * M. Zoeter x Iris van Herpen © *Photography by Ronald Stoops *Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Anthazoa 3D Cape and Skirt, Voltage Collection, Designed by Iris van Herpen, Neri Oxman, Printed by Stratasys, M. Zoeter x Iris van Herpen, Photography by Ronald Stoops / Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston


The fashion industry is poised for major changes with the innovative nature that technology has wrought. The #Techstyle exhibit at the MFA “explores how the synergy between fashion and technology is changing not only the way designers design, but also the way people interact with their clothing.” Check out pieces such as digitally printed dresses from Alexander McQueen and Iris van Herpen in collaboration with MIT designer and assistant professor Neri Oxman.

March 6-July 10, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, 617-267-9300,

Megacities Asia

Bejing, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Seoul—known as Asian “megacities,” with populations of 10 million or more—will be represented with monumental sculptures and installations at the MFA this spring and summer. A series of different artists, ranging from well-known to emerging, “respond to the unprecedented scale and pace of 21st-century South and East Asian urban life by gathering and arranging everyday objects, using the city itself as their medium, to create immersive physical experiences that evoke and respond to recent conditions in these Asian metropolises. Featured artists include Ai Wei Wei. While you’re there, also check out the related exhibits “London and Edo: Cities on the Rise” and “When Ruined Cities Fall.”

April 3-July 17, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, 617-267-9300,

Exhibition Clip; Revolution of the Eye Modern Art and the Birth of American Television The Jewish Museum May 1 – September 20, 2015; Organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Exhibition Curator: Maurice Berger

Photograph courtesy of Addison Gallery of American Art © Fremantle Media

“Revolution of the Eye”

From the 1940s through the 1970s, avant-garde art and design dramatically influenced the look of television. A new exhibit chronicles this history with more than 260 objects and TV clips featuring designs by such modernist titans as Marcel Duchamp, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Eero Saarinen.

April 9–July 31, Addison Gallery of American Art, 978-749-4015,

Geoffrey Farmer

Known for his installations and large-scale, sculptural photo collages, Geoffrey Farmer’s exhibition will include a prolific survey of his recent paper works. Check out the room-sized installations, composed of hundreds of small sculptures made of cutout photographs, fabric, and various supports. Through his compositions, Farmer investigates the historical contours of our image-heavy contemporary culture.

April 13-July 17, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, 100 Northern Ave., Boston,

Experience Public Art

Photo Provided

ArtWeek Boston

At this creative festival, born in Boston in 2013 and expanding rapidly, participate and enjoy more than 100 works of art. With participatory, interactive, and behind-the-scenes access to artists and the creative process, this experience is sure to be a hit for all those who are inspired by art and creativity.

April 29-May 8, various locations,

Year of the Monkey

The MFA is ready to monkey around—with a new exhibit to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, that is. The museum will celebrate with this collection of works that show the importance of the primate in Japanese culture.

April 30-October 10, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, 617-267-9300,

flash forward festival boston photography

‘Alphabet Series’ by Mara Gajic. / Photo Provided via Flash Forward Festival

Flash Forward Festival

Celebrate both New England-based and international photography at the weeklong Flash Forward Festival. Beyond experiencing the photos, participate in the nightly events, talks, indoor exhibitions, and outdoor exhibitions that the festival offers. A series of exhibitions will be available for viewing, exploring themes from the human quest for identity with Birthe Piontek’s “Mimesis,” to “Waiting,” a rumination of the concurrent inaction and expectance of waiting by Josh Larkin.

May 1-8, various locations,

Auguste Rodin. Right Arm of the Whistler Muse, enlargement, about 1909. Plaster. Musée Rodin, Paris, S.2149.

Photograph courtesy of MFA Boston

“Rodin: Transforming Sculpture”

This huge retrospective on the master behind The Thinker features some 150 works in bronze, marble, and plaster, many from the Musée Rodin, in Paris.

May 14–September 5, Peabody Essex Museum, 978-745-9500,

“First Light”

Tehran-born Tala Madani uses drawings, oils on linen, and stop-motion animation to create cartoonish, disquieting images that explore gender roles.

May 20–July 17, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 617-253-4680,

And coming up in June…

Coolidge Corner Arts Festival

Does your home need an art infusion? More than 75 artisans working in jewelry, fiber, glass, and more await at this annual gallery/ market mash-up.

June 4, Devotion School,


Photograph courtesy of Molly Lamb

“Ghost Stepping”

SMFA and MassArt photography instructor Molly Lamb is earning a rep as one of the country’s best emerging talents, thanks in no small part to these stark, haunting portraits of her parents’ personal mementos.

June 9–26, Griffin Museum of Photography, 781-729-1158,