Dead Blogging ‘Frank Bowling’s Americas’ at Boston’s MFA

Well the Missus and I trundled over to The Fens the other day to catch Frank Bowling’s Americas (through April 9) at the Museum of Fine Arts and say, it was swell.

“Modernism belonged to me also.” So resolved British Guiana–born artist Frank Bowling in 1966, when he moved from London to New York City, impelled by ambition to make his mark on modern painting. “Frank Bowling’s Americas” is the first exhibition dedicated to the transformative years the artist spent in the US, and the first major survey of his work by an American institution in more than four decades.

Bowling’s primary residence was New York from 1966 to 1975. In that time he came into contact with a vibrant and tumultuous art scene, with abstract painting on an explosive rise, heated debates unfolding around Black cultural identity and artistic practice, and Stokely Carmichael’s slogan “Black Power” emanating from the South.

Much of Bowling’s work at the time, on the other hand, emanated from South America and Africa, as these paintings illustrate.

The MFA website features a short Meet Frank Bowling video, but this profile of the artist and his work in New York is a lot richer.

Sir Frank Bowling is still creating impressive art at age 88. You should go see it for yourself.

• • • • • • •

The Missus and I also stopped by Michaelina Wautier and ‘The Five Senses’, a new installation in the MFA’s Center for Netherlandish Art, which was also totally swell.

Centered around her rare series The Five Senses (1650), this is the first gallery space in the Americas dedicated to the art of Michaelina Wautier (1614–1689), a painter from Brussels all but forgotten until the recent rediscovery of her work. The set of five pictures was virtually unknown until it was acquired by Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo and lent to the MFA in 2020. Here, it is joined by Wautier’s remarkable Self-Portrait (1645), on loan from a private collection and on public view in the US for the first time.

Here are Wautier’s Five Senses, which “[showcase] how she defied a convention at the time of depicting the senses as experienced by idealized women.”

And here’s that self-portrait.

As with the Frank Bowling exhibit, well worth a trundle.

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