MFA Boston kicks off spring with 2 powerful exhibitions: “Philip Guston: Now” and “Turner’s…

Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) by Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775–1851) 1840. Oil on canvas, 90.8 x 122.6 cm (35 3/4 x 48 1/ 4 in.) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is highlighting two different game-changing artists, JMW Turner and Philip Guston, who responded to their own tumultuous times with innovative artistic visions.

One of Britain’s greatest artists, JMW Turner (1775-1851) lived and worked at the height of the Industrial Revolution, when steam replaced sailing, machinery replaced labor and wars, political unrest and social reform transformed society. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from March 27 to July 10, 2022, the exhibition Turner’s Modern World will explore how this artist, more than any of his contemporaries, embraced these changes and developed an innovative style of painting to better capture this new world.

(detail) Philip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973, oil on canvas, overall: 196.85 x 262.89 cm (77 1/2 x 103 1/2 in.) Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam © The Estate of Philip Guston

This landmark exhibition brings together over 100 of Turner’s paintings, watercolours, drawings and sketchbooks, including Tate Britain’s Snowstorm: Hannibal and his army crossing the Alps (1812), The burning of the House of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834 (1835) from the Cleveland Museum of Art and the MFA Slave ship (1840). These vivid and dramatic compositions demonstrate Turner’s commitment to depicting the major events and developments of his time, from technological advances to causes such as abolition and political reform. Turner’s Modern World is organized by Tate Britain in association with the Kimbell Art Museum and the MFA.

Also coming to the MFA (May 1 to Sept. 11, 2022), Philippe Guston: Now is a traveling exhibit that sparked controversy when dates were initially pushed back four years. One of America’s greatest modern painters, Philip Guston (1913-1980) defies easy categorization. His winding 50-year career, in which sensitive abstractions gave way to large comic-book canvases populated by lumpy, sometimes tortured characters and mysterious personal symbols, has garnered both admiration and controversy.

This major exhibition, organized by the MFA, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Tate Modern in London, is the first retrospective of Guston’s work in nearly 20 years. The selection of approximately 90 paintings and 30 drawings from public and private collections features well-known works as well as others rarely seen. Highlights include paintings from the 1930s that have never been on public display; the largest collection of paintings from Guston’s groundbreaking Marlborough Gallery exhibition in 1970; a dazzling range of small panel paintings made from 1968 to 1972 as he developed his new vocabulary of hooded heads, books, bricks and shoes; and a powerful selection of large, often apocalyptic paintings from the late 1970s that form the artist’s last major artistic statement.

Comments are closed.