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Return to the edge of the world

The year ahead in art
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  December 27, 2006

Photography and new media loom large on the 2007 art horizon, with cameras pointed in every direction. The family is shot, history is pictured, and our environment is documented. Art created especially for PDAs and a hip video-rental scheme give us visuals on the go. Masters of the Italian Renaissance, on the other hand, set a slower pace.

RECENT HISTORY: Ben Vautier’s Total Art Match Box is part of “Multiple Strategies: Beuys, Maciunas, Fluxus” at the Busch-Reisinger Museum.

Concern for the unfolding, potentially disastrous consequences of global development comes into unexpectedly beautiful focus in “Edward Burtynsky: The China Series,” at Tufts University Art Gallery (40R Talbot Avenue, Medford; January 19–April 1), with large-scale photographs documenting China’s growth over the past decade. Simultaneously at Tufts, “Altered States: Views of Transition in Recent Photography” presents work by six artists looking at the effects of industry and development in the US and abroad, including Mori Insinger’s chronicle of the gentrification of Boston’s South End.

Rapid industrialization and its effect on life in American cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries set off a progressive reform movement that inspired the creation of the Social Museum at Harvard, which is committed to documenting urban conditions. “Classified Documents: The Social Museum of Harvard University, 1903–1931,” at Harvard’s Sackler Museum (485 Broadway, Cambridge; January 20–April 22), presents more than 100 original exhibition boards with photographs and illustrations from the Social Museum collection. Harvard also illuminates recent art history: “Multiple Strategies: Beuys, Maciunas, Fluxus,” at the Busch-Reisinger Museum (32 Quincy St, Cambridge; February 24–June 10), scrutinizes works by German artist Joseph Beuys and the international collective Fluxus.

Kara Walker continues her bold reimagining of American history, adding historical documentation to her signature black cutouts in “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated),” at the Addison Gallery of American Art (Phillips Academy, 180 Main St, Andover; January 26–April 15). Concurrently, in “Models as Muse,” four contemporary artists inspired by Addison’s famed model ship collection make new video, sculpture, and wall drawings.

The International Council for Science, in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization, has declared 2007 “International Polar Year,” and in recognition of this important moment, and reflecting the insatiable appetite of artists and explorers alike for pushing the limits of the known world, “Echoes in the Ice: Collages of Polar Explorer by Rik van Glintenkamp,” at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History (26 Oxford St, Cambridge; January 27–April 22), looks at the exploits of 30 heroic and oft-times eccentric Arctic and Antarctic adventurers. Our conflicted relationship with the natural world, which we are both entirely dependent on and determined to mess with, informs “Great Apes,” at Second Gallery (516 East Second St, South Boston; January 20–February 18).

Working in collaboration with members of the Boston science community, experimental Dutch artist Leonard van Munster explores technology’s power to bend things we think of as immutable (that is, through gene manipulation and the like). Current intersections of biology, technology, and art are examined in “It’s Alive! A Laboratory of Biotech Art,” at Montserrat College of Art Gallery (23 Essex St, Beverly; February 15–April 7), with work by 11 artists including Brian Burkhardt, whose Frankenstein-like experimentation with handmade bugs and plants gives Harvard’s glass flowers a run for their money.

SAY CHEESE! Miguel Calderón’s Family Portrait is part of “Shoot the Family” at MassArt.

Your typical family photo is often mesmerizing because of the truths it unwittingly tells, but when the camera is in the hands (and homes) of such artists as Richard Billingham and Miguel Calderón, be prepared for images that cut to the bone of complex domestic relationships. “Shoot the Family,” at Mass College of Art (621 Huntington Ave, Boston; January 15–March 10), pulls up the rug on the family dirt. Also looking at the attachments we make, “Only Connect,” at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Mills Gallery (539 Tremont St, Boston; February 2–March 18), finds five video and new-media artists delving into our relationships with family, friends, lovers, and strangers. At the same time at the Mills, “Cathy McLaurin: Sock Monkey Kama Sutra” has an innocent icon of childhood and homely craft whooping it up with the ancient Indian guide to love in some pretty sexy paintings.

Painting makes a big splash in “Big Bang! Abstract Painting for the 21st Century,” at the DeCordova Museum (51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln; January 20–April 22), with 15 artists whose take on non-representational painting would make Clement Greenberg turn over in his grave. Inspired by cosmology, quantum physics, new technology, and the irrepressible, age-old pleasure of oil on canvas, artists including Sarah Walker and Thaddeus Beal paint up a (non-objective) storm.

1  |  2  |   next >
  • Fight the power
    Artists protest war, scrutinize surveillance, explore usefulness, and embrace couture  
  • Exposures
    Photos from Yousuf Karsh, William Christenberry, and the PRC
  • Afterglow
    Rachel Whiteread’s dollhouse village at the MFA, Erwin Redl’s red-light district at Emerson
  • More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Harvard University , Museum of Fine Arts , Cultural Institutions and Parks ,  More more >
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