Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art of the Americas

Randall Stephens

The Boston MFA opens its new Art of the Americas Wing this week. (Watch a video on the space.) The extension represents the most significant public art project in America today. With a price tag of over $500 million, it will display a portion of the museum's massive South and North American collections. It ranges from the pre-Columbia to the 20th century. Some critics have complained that the wing will lack some of the MFA's best post-war pieces. That seems like a minor issue though.

WBUR reports:

And while this is a big cultural moment for Boston, the rest of the world is paying attention, too.

“Museums all over the country have expanded over the last decades and this is the MFA’s entry in the ‘space race,’ ” said arts writer Judith Dobrzynski, who has reported on the MFA’s expansion for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

“And because it’s a beautiful space, and because it’s chock-a-block with art from the Americas, which is different. This is very important and I think it probably going to raise the profile and the stature of the MFA.”

Dobrzynski is impressed by the MFA’s fundraising effort, and the $504 million represents a feat for Boston. Other cities — bigger cities, she said — including Los Angeles and Chicago, have not been as successful in raising money for their own museum campaigns. Or as strategic. The MFA’s new construction cost about $340 million — much of the rest sits in an endowment.
“You know the MFA was very ambitious here,” she said, laughing, “but at the same time a bit conservative by going for a building fund and an endowment fund at the same time. I shouldn’t say conservative. I should say responsible here.”>>>

As far as North American artists, highlights will likely include:

Washington Allston
John Singer Sargent
Gilbert Stuart
Frederic Edwin Church
Martin Johnson Heade
Fitz Henry Lane
Thomas Eakins

John Singleton Copley
Childe Hassam
Frank Benson
Edmund Tarbell
Winslow Homer
Mary Cassatt
Ellen Day Hale
Gretchen Rogers
Lilian Westcott Hale
Georgia O’Keeffe
Arthur Dove

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