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Collecting stories: a mid-century experiment

Exhibition May 4, 2019 − March 8, 2020
«Collecting stories: a mid-century experiment»Explores a brief moment in the history of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, when he launched a trial initiative to acquire contemporary American art, reflecting new interest among US art museums in collecting and displaying works by living American artists. In 1941, the Museum created the Temporary Collection as a repository for contemporary paintings, which allows the museum to store works without adding them to the permanent collection until it is established that they stood the test of time. By 1957, the museum acquired more than 150 works of contemporary American art as part of this mid-century experiment.

"Collecting stories: an experiment of the middle of the century" includes about 45 paintings and paper works from the museum funds. These paintings vary widely in style and genre - from landscapes and still lifes to scenes of social realities and works, experimenting with unusual materials and techniques. These paintings serve as a counterpoint for historical and artistic stories, framing the 1940s and 1950s as a period in which abstract expressionism dominated.

The exhibition features artists such as Isabel Bishop, Hyman Bloom, Darrell Austin, Marsden Hartley, Fanny Hillsmith, Edward Melkart, Florin Stettheimer, Joseph de Martini and Andrew Wyeth.

The exhibition explores issues of heritage and taste, the perception of artists at one time and beyond, as well as the role that museums play in the development of artists ’reputation and the history of canonical art.