Culture Corner – May 2013

As mentioned in my April Recap post I’ve decided to add a couple of feature posts once a month and here is my first one and I hope you enjoy it! I’ve decided to call it Culture Corner because 1) I love alliteration and 2) I figured Museum Monday’s was too limiting on both the day of the post and the subject matter. I apologize in advance for the length of this article. I saw two exhibits and took a lot of pictures.

I’ve been a member of the MFA for most of my time in Boston and since I’ve been here, I’ve seen some pretty cool exhibits like Chihuly’s Through the Looking Glass (2011), Alex Katz Prints (2012), Mario Testino’s In Your Face (2012/13) and The Postcard Age Selections from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection (2012/13) among others.

In April, my friends Caroline and Nick joined me to see two exhibits that will be here throughout the summer: Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection and New Blue and White. Both exhibits were amazing and below are some pictures and my thoughts on the exhibits.

Now I know very little about Japanese culture and even though I visited a previous Japanese exhibition (travel posters) at the MFA, I went into this exhibition only knowing popular culture facts about samurai, but that’s okay because one thing the MFA does incredibly well is provide a lot of facts on the placards describing the pieces, especially for an exhibit like this. It was fascinating to learn about the intricacies that went into the armor and the myriad pieces that made up one set of armor. Apparently there are very few full sets that remain in their original condition. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but these were the most striking pieces to me left to right, top to bottom:

  • face mask – looks vaguely Maori, which struck me and reminded me how close New Zealand is to Asia; 
  • helmet – the detail on this was amazing – those are ‘flames’ going up the sides and they come to a point.
  • knot detail on the back of a samurai chest plate – what I didn’t realize was how intricate the armor was, so much of it was metal bars/coin shapes sewn/knotted in to plated armor.
  • frontal crest – I mostly took this picture because let’s face it nightmares can’t even be this creepy! If I remember correctly, the description said it was a toothed fish.

The one thing I didn’t take a picture of was in the largest portion of the exhibit which had fully armored mannequins set up as if in a parade and four-to-five horses with mannequins, again fully armored – horses too. It was a bit overwhelming. I just stared and, honestly, was a bit creeped out at how realistic the horses were.

The New Blue and White exhibit was my favorite. I’ve always been fascinated by blue and white china from the giant vases in Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (both the painting and the vases are on display at the MFA) to the plates my grandma has in her china cabinet. And I thought this was an awesome re-interpretation of the art form. Although I didn’t get a picture of it, there was a series of vases that are mass-produced that an artist took a number and gave them to individual artists and had them interpret in their own eyes this one scene and it was just brilliantly done you had all perspectives on the vases.

When it comes to modern art I’m not generally a big fan of it. I do however have a soft spot for sculpture and this exhibit was definitely worth the visit. The top large photo was probably my favorite piece. There was just something so majestic and beautiful about this bust being painted that way. To it’s right is a rather large wave piece and directly below it is a detail shot. The sculpture is a collection of hundreds of smaller pieces held together by wire. My second favorite piece was the repurposed plate which is the large photo at the bottom. The artist took an actual plate and punched holes in it to create the necklace (see the two detail shots above it). In addition the artist made earrings and bracelets from other plates. It was just so creative.

Again, as with the Samurai! exhibit I didn’t get a picture of the largest installation. It was this large wooden structure with shelves on the walls surrounding it. There were blue and white pottery oddities on every shelf papier-mâché all over the walls and it looked like someone’s workroom exploded.

I’m sure I will write about this later, but one thing that I love about the MFA is their use of space. Both of these exhibits take place in galleries that constantly change (as in they put up new walls and sections) for visiting exhibits and there is not a spot wasted and I appreciate that. One of my biggest complaints about the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) here in Boston is it’s seemingly wasted space.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this momentary interlude and I can’t wait for next month’s. I’m taking my mom and aunt to the MFA when they’re in town for my sister’s graduation. I think they’ll enjoy it and I’ve already got a few galleries in mind to take them to visit as there’s no way they’ll be able to see the whole thing. I haven’t even seen the entire thing and I’ve been so many times!

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14 thoughts on “Culture Corner – May 2013

  1. I am going to love these posts. I really enjoyed looking at these photos on IG when you first posted them. I wish I had a good museum to go to in this area. I really need to live in a place with more culture. :/

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    • Well I’m sure you’ve got things we don’t!

      Plus since you follow me on IG you’re basically getting a sneak peaks very month! It’s like you’re a supporting member of the museum.

      I’m just hoping everyone doesn’t get bored with the MFA as its my favorite and they so so much and I still have so much left to explore.

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  2. That blue and white exhibit looks fascinating! I can’t say I ever though much about blue and white china, but I love the way the artists have reimagined the traditional form.

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    • It was great – I’d definitely recommend checking out the MFA site as there were so many different interpretations I didn’t take a picture of including a gorgeous kimono type dress made from individual ceramic butterflies and a surfboard!

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  3. I cannot wait to go to these exhibits! After seeing your photos on Twitter I tipped off a friend to go to the Blue and White. Hopefully I’ll be seeing these soon!

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    • You should definitely go and see them! If you’re not a member they’re free all three days of Memorial Day weekend. I’m not sure when they’re other free days are.

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        • Yeah – that’s always a good option. On the free weekend there are so many people and sometimes you can’t really appreciate it, but I do love to see it super full!

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          • Yeah! It’s nice to see lots of people enjoying the museum. I do prefer it quieter, though. I tend to do a lot of drawing when I visit museums, and if it’s too busy I feel rushed and/or I get jostled.

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  4. Pingback: Workout Wednesday – May 2013 | The Oddness of Moving Things

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