(Boston, MA—January 15, 2020) The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) announces its advance schedule of exhibitions through winter 2021. Upcoming exhibitions include Sterling Ruby’s first comprehensive museum survey; the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the multi-disciplinary artist and designer Virgil Abloh; a newly commissioned, monumental sculpture by Firelei Báez at the ICA Watershed, and the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Deana Lawson. For more information, please contact Margaux Leonard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-478-3176.
Feb 26, 2020–May 26, 2020
ICA/Boston presents the first comprehensive museum survey for American/Dutch artist Sterling Ruby. The exhibition features more than 70 works that demonstrate the relationship between material transformation in Ruby’s practice and the rapid evolution of contemporary culture, institutions, and labor. Spanning more than two decades of the artist’s career, the exhibition features an array of works created in various mediums, from his renowned ceramics and paintings to lesser-known drawings and sculptures. Since his earliest works, Ruby has investigated the role of the artist as an outsider. Critiquing the structures of modernism and traditional institutions, Ruby addresses the repressed underpinnings of U.S. culture and the coding of power and violence, employing a range of imagery from the American flag to prison architecture and graffiti. Craft is central to his inquiry, informed by his upbringing in Pennsylvania Dutch country and working in Los Angeles, as he explores hand-based processes from Amish quilt-making to California’s radical ceramics tradition. Organized loosely by chronology and medium, Sterling Ruby considers the artist’s explorations of these themes across the many materials and forms he has utilized throughout his practice, including many innovations. Sterling Ruby is co-presented with Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and is accompanied by an illustrated scholarly catalogue edited by Alex Gartenfeld and Eva Respini, featuring a conversation between Ruby and Isabelle Graw, and essays that consider Ruby’s work amidst the contemporary art production and visual culture of the last 30 years. Organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston, and Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, ICA, Miami, with Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager, ICA/Boston.
Mar 28, 2020–Mar 14, 2021
The vibrant sculptures of New York–based artist Eva LeWitt (b. 1985, Spoleto, Italy) transform industrially manufactured materials such as coated mesh, polyurethane foam, and latex into hand-fashioned environmental arrangements of hanging geometric forms and gradations of undulating color. For the ICA’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall, LeWitt will conceive of a monumental hanging wall sculpture made of colorful coated mesh whose design creates a number of interlocking minimal forms that resemble landscape elements. As the work’s crosshatched woven surfaces and fields of color overlap and respond to ambient conditions, an optical moiré effect is produced, creating a dynamic perceptual experience that vibrates throughout the museum’s interior. Organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
May 24, 2020–Sep 7, 2020
In summer 2020, the ICA Watershed will feature a newly commissioned, monumental sculpture by acclaimed artist Firelei Báez. In her largest sculptural installation to date, the artist reimagines the archeological ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace in Haiti as though they were revealed in East Boston after the sea receded from the Watershed floor. The Watershed’s location—in a working shipyard and as a trade site and point of entry and home for immigrants over decades—provides a pivotal point of reference. Báez embeds Sans-Souci within the geological layers of Boston, where histories of revolution and independence are integral to the city’s identity. This site-specific installation will invite visitors to traverse passageways and travel through time, engaging with streams of influence and interconnectedness. The work’s intricately painted architectural surfaces include symbols of healing and resistance, patterning drawn from West African indigo printing traditions (later used in the American South), and sea growths native to Caribbean waters. Báez’s sculpture points to the centuries-long exchanges of ideas and influence between Europe, the African continent, and the Americas. Organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator.
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”
Jul 4, 2020–Oct 18, 2020
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the genre-bending artist and designer Virgil Abloh (b. 1980, Rockford, IL). Abloh pioneers a practice that cuts across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers, and architects. Abloh cultivated an interest in design and music at an early age, finding inspiration in the urban culture of Chicago. While pursuing a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he had worked on album covers, concert designs, and merchandising. In 2013, Abloh founded his stand-alone fashion brand Off-White™ in Milan, Italy, and, in 2018, assumed the position of artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and set in an immersive space designed by Rem Koolhaas’s renowned architecture firm OMA*AMO, the exhibition will offer an in-depth look at defining highlights of Abloh’s career, including signature clothing collections, video documentation of iconic fashion shows, distinctive furniture and graphic design work, and collaborative projects with contemporary artists. A program of cross-disciplinary offerings will mirror the artist’s range of interests across music and design. Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator of the MCA Chicago. The exhibition is designed by Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA. The ICA’s presentation is coordinated by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Curator.
William Kentridge: KABOOM!
Jul 22, 2020–Jan 3, 2021
The central focus of the wide-ranging, interdisciplinary work of William Kentridge (b. 1955, Johannesburg, South Africa) is the prolonged effects of colonialism in South Africa, specifically of the apartheid system. Using a diverse range of media, from drawing, performance, and film to opera and other large-scale theatrical productions, Kentridge reanimates painful histories and uncomfortable paradoxes of colonialism—“what we’ve chosen not to remember,” as he says. The ICA presents the museum premiere of KABOOM! (2018), a recent major acquisition and room-filling multimedia installation. KABOOM! tells the story of the nearly two million African porters and carriers used by the British, French, and Germans during World War I in Africa. Set to a rousing, orchestral score co-composed by Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi, the monumental, three-channel work is projected onto a scale model of the stage from Kentridge’s tour-de-force performance The Head & the Load, which premiered at Tate London before being presented at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. Employing his trademark multidisciplinary approach and his recurring trope of the procession, Kentridge builds up dynamic layers of drawings, moving images, and texts projected onto sculptural paper props and found objects to embody the dramatic arc and theatrical intensity of The Head & the Load at gallery scale. The title of The Head & the Load comes from a Ghanaian proverb that reads, “The head and the load are the troubles of the neck,” and the porters in KABOOM! shoulder the physical load transported all across Africa. As the work suggests, they are the ones who ultimately bare the historical legacy of colonialism and war. Organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
Raύl de Nieves
Jul 22, 2020–Jan 3, 2021
This exhibition is the first museum presentation in Boston of New York-based artist Raúl de Nieves (b. 1983, Michoacán, Mexico). De Nieves is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, and musician whose multifaceted practice ranges from stained-glass style narrative paintings, to energetic performances, to densely adorned figurative sculptures encrusted with bells, beads, bangles, sequins, and other everyday materials. These opulent sculptures reference ritual costumes in Mexican culture and evoke other global theatrical traditions from Japanese kabuki to circus performance to religious processional attire. De Nieves’s works all share a distinctive visual language of forms and motifs drawn from Mexican craft traditions, religious iconography, and mythology to explore the transformational possibilities of adornment and the mutability of identity. Organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
Nov 18, 2020–Mar 14, 2021
This exhibition is the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Deana Lawson (b. 1979 in Rochester, NY). Lawson is a singular voice in photography today. For more than 15 years, she has been investigating and challenging the conventional representations of black identities. Drawing on a wide spectrum of photographic languages, including the family album, studio portraiture, staged tableaux, documentary pictures, and appropriated images, Lawson’s posed photographs channel broader ideas about personal and social histories, sexuality, and spiritual beliefs. Lawson’s large-format color photographs are highly staged and depict individuals, couples, and families in both domestic and public settings, picturing narratives of family, love, and desire. Engaging members of her own community as well as strangers she meets on the street, she meticulously poses her subjects in a variety of interiors to create what the artist describes as “a mirror of everyday life, but also a projection of what I want to happen. It’s about setting a different standard of values and saying that everyday black lives, everyday experiences, are beautiful, and powerful, and intelligent.” Lawson’s works are made in collaboration with her subjects, who are often nude, embracing, and directly confronting the camera, destabilizing the notion of photography as a passively voyeuristic medium. This survey exhibition will include a selection of photographs from 2004 to the present, and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue, featuring the voices and perspectives of a variety of scholars, historians, and writers. Organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston, and Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1.
About the ICA
Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and augmenting art’s role as educator, incubator, and convener for social engagement. Its innovative exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. Spanning two locations across Boston Harbor, the ICA offers year-round programming at its iconic building in Boston’s Seaport and seasonal programming (May-September) at the Watershed in an East Boston shipyard.
The ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. The Watershed is located at 256 Marginal Street, East Boston, MA 02128. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Sterling Ruby is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston, and Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, ICA, Miami, with Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager, ICA/Boston.
Major support for Sterling Ruby is provided by Sprüth Magers, Gagosian, and Xavier Hufkens.
Additional support for the Boston presentation is generously provided by Stephanie Formica Connaughton and John Connaughton, Jean-François and Nathalie Ducrest, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, James and Audrey Foster, Ted Pappendick and Erica Gervais Pappendick, David and Leslie Puth, and Charlotte and Herbert S. Wagner III.
Eva LeWitt is organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
Eva LeWitt is presented by Max Mara.
Additional support is provided by Jean-François and Nathalie Ducrest and Barbara H. Lloyd.
Firelei Báez is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Cara Kuball, Curatorial Project Manager.
Free admission to the ICA Watershed is made possible by the generosity of Alan and Vivien Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.
The Boston Foundation welcomes you to the ICA Watershed.
The ICA Watershed is supported by Fund for the Arts, a public art program of the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”
Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator of the MCA Chicago. The exhibition is designed by Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA. The ICA’s presentation is coordinated by Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Curator.
The exhibition tour for Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is made possible by Kenneth C. Griffin.
Major support for the Boston presentation of Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is provided by Encore Boston Harbor.
Support is provided by Northern Trust.
William Kentridge: KABOOM!
William Kentridge: KABOOM! is organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
KABOOM! was acquired through the generosity of Amy and David Abrams, James and Audrey Foster, Charlotte Wagner and Herbert S. Wagner III, Jeanne L. Wasserman Art Acquisition Fund, and Fotene and Tom Coté Art Acquisition Fund.
Raύl de Nieves
Raύl de Nieves is organized by Jeffrey De Blois, Assistant Curator and Publications Manager.
Deana Lawson is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston, and Peter Eleey, Chief Curator, MoMA PS1.
Major support for Deana Lawson is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Sterling Ruby, ACTS/WS ROLLIN, 2011. Clear urethane block, dye, wood, spray paint, and formica. 60 ½ x 62 ½ x 34 inches (153.7 x 158.8 x 86.4 cm). Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio, Los Angeles. © Sterling Ruby Studio
Installation view, Eva LeWitt, VI, VII, Oslo, 2018. Courtesy the artist and VI, VII, Oslo. Photo by Christian Tunge. © Eva LeWitt
Firelei Báez, ICA Watershed installation rendering, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York. Rendering by Nate Garner.
Installation view, Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2019. Courtesy of the artist. © Virgil Abloh
William Kentridge, KABOOM!, 2018. Three-channel HD film installation, model stage, paper props, found objects, and three mini-projectors with stands, 75 ¼ x 196 ¼ x 40 ⅜ inches (191 x 498.5 x 102.5 cm). Acquired with major support from Amy and David Abrams, with additional generous support from James and Audrey Foster, Charlotte Wagner and Herbert S. Wagner III, Jeanne L. Wasserman Art Acquisition Fund, and Fotene and Tom Coté Art Acquisition Fund. Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman. © William Kentridge
Raúl de Nieves, Fina Wisdom, 2019. Vintage military suit, sequins, metal bells, threads, glue, cardboard, plastic beads, tape, trims, and mannequin. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Company, New York. © Raúl de Nieves
Deana Lawson, Roxie and Raquel, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2010. Inkjet print, 35 × 43 inches (88.9 × 109.2 cm). © Deana Lawson. Courtesy the artist; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.