Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Exhibition: July 28 - October 20, 2002
Over three decades Eli and Edythe Broad have
built one of the foremost collections of post-war art in the United States,
remarkable for its mix of established and emerging artists and for in-depth
representation of such key figures as Roy Lichtenstein and Cindy Sherman.
exhibition includes works by seventeen American and German artists, beginning
with the seminal, 1960s art of Jasper Johns and ending with the current
achievements of Jeff Koons. While presenting iconic works by some of the
greatest masters of our time, the exhibition also explores relationships between
current art and its predecessors as well as some of the bold advances into new
styles, subjects, and media that have evolved over the past forty years.
Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections”
offers a rare opportunity to view exceptional work by some of the most
influential contemporary artists from this country and abroad. Based in Los
Angeles, Eli and Edythe Broad are recognized internationally for their
enthusiastic and in-depth collecting of the art of our time.
addition to their personal collection, they formed The Broad Art Foundation in
1984 to lend contemporary work to institutions unable to support acquisitions in
a market increasingly beyond the financial reach of many. This exhibition,
organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is drawn from the Broads’
personal and Foundation collections.
the Broads’ sense of exploration and engagement, the exhibition includes over
75 paintings, sculptures, and photographs by seventeen artists. It focuses on
particular aspects of the Broads’ collections, including their emphases on
figurative art, on art produced in the 1980s, and on the serious and impressive
representation of the work of Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Cindy
Sherman, and Jeff Koons.
paintings from the 1960s are some that many today consider iconic, especially
those by John Baldessari, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Andy
Warhol. Many of these works reveal divergent interests in a period usually
associated with the rise of Pop Art.
Among them are Baldessari’s wry Tips
for Artists, Johns’s famous appropriation of the American
Lichtenstein’s inspired use of comics in Live Ammo
(Blang!), and Cy
Twombly’s powerful, overall abstractions — physical painting unusual for the
Broads have paid special attention to European and American artists who gained
wide recognition in the 1980s — the decade in which the Broads became fully
immersed in collecting.
Their choices of sculpture and, especially, painting
reveal their interest in politically charged imagery and in the period’s
renewed emphasis on figuration. Among the works representing this decade are
Eric Fischl’s haunting and unsettling views of suburbia, David Salle’s
multi-panel assemblies of images from the dark side of popular culture, and
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s exploration of race and his own position within the New
York art world in the style of spontaneous street graffiti.
highlights of the exhibition are three monumental paintings from three decades
by German artist Anselm Kiefer. Kiefer takes a disturbing interpretation of
German history as a metaphor for his own relationship with making art in highly
textured, physically overwhelming canvases. The combination of grand scale and
unusual materials — such as oil and straw with charcoal on burlap — enhance the
power of Kiefer’s subject matter.
Cindy Sherman is another artist whom the Broads have collected
consistently and comprehensively; she is represented in this exhibition by work
from throughout her career. In Sherman’s color and black-and-white photographs
over the last three decades, she has used herself as her primary model, costumed
to represent stereotypes from popular culture and mass media as well as revered
characters within the history of art.
Broads have sought out superior works by California artists and placed them
within the context of their international art collections. In addition to the
paintings of Baldessari and Ruscha, the exhibition includes key examples of
Robert Therrien’s sculpture. Such works as Under the Table demonstrate
Therrien’s sensitivity to materials and the most ordinary objects, and his
extraordinary sense of balance and scale. Charles Ray has also responded to the
immediacy and power of the commonplace in his photographs and sculptures that
transcend the pedantic with an undercurrent of oddity and unreality.
exhibition closes with the sculptures and paintings of Jeff Koons, who continues
to challenge the boundaries between “fine art” and the kitschy world of
popular culture. Koons evokes the original outrageousness of Pop Art,
contributing to its legacy with such carefully crafted sculptures as Michael
Jackson and Bubbles. His most recent, larger-than-life efforts—Balloon
Dog and Cat on a Clothesline—are shown for the first time in this
Cheryl Brutvan is the Robert L. Beal, Enid L.
and Bruce A. Beal Curator of Contemporary Art.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5523
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