Excitement Builds for New Contemporary Wing at MFA

Though I live 10,000 miles away from Boston, I’m ridiculously excited for the opening of the contemporary wing of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Now that the controversy regarding an expensive screening of Christian Marclay’s The Clock has settled down, I can finally focus on the fantastic art in the MFA’s collection that will finally be on view in the I.M. Pei-designed Linde Family Contemporary Wing.

The giant opening gala on Sept. 17 will run for 24 hours, in conjunction with screening Marclay’s collection of clips that’s 24 hours long. Despite the expensive tickets, the gala is a way for the traditional MFA to better connect with the city’s up-and-coming art scene, with both After Hours and Wee Hours parties, each for different prices of admission. The Clock will also be screened at regular admission prices starting at 4 p.m. on Sept. 16. The first exhibition of works will last for a year, from Sept. 18, 2011, to the same day in 2012, so there’s plenty of time to check it out.

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to seeing:

Christian Marclay, The Clock

This work is the reason why I’m wishing I were still in Boston. It’s been shown at the LA County Museum of Art and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, one of the highest honors in contemporary art. It’s basically a 24-hour videomontage showing clocks, watches and people telling time, but it’s intensely compelling.

The Clock is shown based on the time the screening starts (if the screening starts at 10 a.m., the work will run from 10 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and is required to run for a consecutive 24 hours. I’d highly advise the camp-out: Its acquisition is a coup for the MFA, and from what I’ve heard, it’s an intense art experience.

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue Green Yellow Orange Red (blue panel), 1968

Okay, this isn’t quite contemporary — it’s only a decade younger than my parents — but I really appreciate Ellsworth Kelly’s work. I love how he integrates his work into architecture and that its simplicity (matte paint, no figures or curves) imparts it with sculptural meaning. Photos online are underwhelming. Why is a giant rainbow-colored panel special?

Unfortunately, they don’t give this work a fair chance. Kelly’s paintings generally translate terribly in the digital age, and the impact of his work’s monumental presence needs to be experienced in person. Donated by Bank of America this year, Blue Green Yellow Orange Red is a new acquisition that will be a highlight of the MFA’s contemporary collection for years to come.

Maurizio Nannucci, All Art Has Been Contemporary

This work, which has been displayed on the exterior of Florence’s Uffizzi Gallery, was specially commissioned for the MFA’s new contemporary wing. Honestly, words in neon aren’t particularly ground-breaking, but they’re visually interesting. The message of this work seems especially relevant in regard to the MFA’s diverse collection: At one point, all of it was contemporary.

All Art Has Been Contemporary requires the viewer to reexamine its notions of the dichotomy of contemporary art and historical art and understand that all of it is part of a evolving and universal canon.

Which works are you most looking foward to seeing at the MFA’s new Linde Contemporary Art wing? 

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