Stanley Whitney, Color Bar, 1997. Oil on linen, 72 3/4 x 85 1/4 inches (184.8 x 216.5 cm). Courtesy of Stanley Whitney Studio. © Stanley Whitney
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Admission is free from 5 to 9 PM on ICA Free Thursdays.
From early breakthroughs to mature formal experiments, How High the Moon is the first retrospective to trace the evolution of Stanley Whitney’s wholly unique and powerful abstractions over the course of his 50-year career. The exhibition’s title is inspired by the 1940 song penned by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis, which became a jazz standard that has conveyed enchantment, longing, and, in some interpretations, has reached for the sublime.
Since he began making them in 2002, Whitney’s square-format, loosely gridded abstract canvases have increasingly captured the imagination of viewers. Each contains four horizontal rows of alternately askant and ordered squares painted in varying degrees of opacity. While Whitney’s format has remained consistent over the past twenty years, no painting is the same as another. As he builds these immersive abstractions, Whitney holds space for his viewers to focus not on each painting’s subject, but rather on our own response to color.
How High the Moon features extensive installations of the artist’s improvisatory small paintings; his drawings and prints, which constitute their own important practice for Whitney; and a chronological selection of the artist’s sketchbooks spanning from 1987 to 2021, which offer a view into Whitney’s engagement with the written word as well as politics. Throughout, his work is put in the context of his diverse sources of inspiration, which include music, poetry, American quilts, and the history of art and architecture, among many others.
Whitney’s powerful, color-saturated abstractions give viewers the space to feel what it means to be human, to mentally wander, and to gather the strength to survive. This touring retrospective, the first survey of Whitney’s work ever assembled, demonstrates the true height of his achievement.
Since the early 1990s, Huma Bhabha (born 1962 in Karachi) has developed a distinct visual vocabulary that draws upon a wide variety of influences, including horror movies, science fiction, ancient artifacts, religious reliquary, and modernist sculpture. The largest survey of the artist’s work to date, Huma Bhabha: They Live encompasses sculpture, drawing, and photography, with a special focus on Bhabha’s engagement with the human figure.
Best known for her sculptures, Bhabha uses a diverse array of natural, industrial, and found materials to make compelling works that engage the arts and histories of diverse cultures. Her work transcends a singular time and place, instead creating an exploration of what she describes as the “eternal concerns” found across all cultures: war, colonialism, displacement, and memories of home.
Huma Bhabha: They Live also includes drawings, photographs, and prints spanning the past two decades, as well as new works made on the occasion of this exhibition. It is accompanied by a lushly illustrated scholarly publication.
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 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.
Explore the companion pop-up store, “Church & State”
Explore an Abloh-inspired zine by ICA Teens
How artists have used ornamentation to transform craft and design, feminism, queerness and gender, beauty and taste, camouflage and masquerade, and multiculturalism and globalism.
Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design brings together works in painting, sculpture, ceramic, dance, furniture design, and more that privilege decoration, pattern, and maximalism.
Borrowing its attitude from architect Robert Venturi’s witty retort to Mies van der Rohe’s modernist edict “less is more,” Less Is a Bore shows how artists, including those affiliated with the Pattern & Decoration movement of the 1970s, have sought to rattle the dominance of modernism and minimalism. Encouraged by the pluralism permeating many cultural spheres at the time, these artists accommodated new ideas, modes, and materials, challenging entrenched categories that marginalized non-Western art, fashion, interior design, and applied art.
The exhibition considers how artists have used ornamentation, pattern painting, and other decorative modes to critique, subvert, and transform accepted histories related to craft and design, feminism, queerness and gender, beauty and taste, camouflage and masquerade, and multiculturalism and globalism. More recent artworks in the exhibition chart both the legacy and transformation of these trajectories.
Spanning generations, geographies, and traditions, Less Is a Bore includes works ranging from experiments in patterning by Sanford Biggers, Jasper Johns, and Miriam Schapiro to the transgressive sculpture and furniture of Lucas Samaras and Ettore Sottsass, to the installations of Polly Apfelbaum, Nathalie du Pasquier, and Virgil Marti.
Ron Amstutz (b. 1968, Youngstown, OH)
Polly Apfelbaum (b. 1955, Abington Township, PA)
Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941, Long Beach, CA)
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970, Los Angeles)
Tord Boontje (b. 1968, Enschende, The Netherlands)
Leigh Bowery (b. 1961, Sunshine, Australia; d. 1995, London) and Fergus Greer (b. England)
Roger Brown (b. 1941, Hamilton, AL; d. 1997, Atlanta)
Taylor Davis (b. 1959, Palm Springs, CA)
Nathalie Du Pasquier (b. 1957, Bordeaux, France)
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. 1922, Qazvin, Iran; d. 2019, Tehran, Iran)
Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO)
Nancy Graves (b. 1939, Pittsfield, MA; d. 1995, New York)
Valerie Jaudon (b. 1945, Greenville, MS)
Jasper Johns (b. 1930, Augusta, GA)
Joyce Kozloff (b. 1942, Somerville, NJ)
Robert Kushner (b. 1949, Pasadena, CA)
Ellen Lesperance (b. 1971, Minneapolis)
Sol LeWitt (b. 1928, Hartford, CT; d. 2007, New York)
Liza Lou (b. 1969, New York)
Babette Mangolte (b. 1941, Montmorot, France) and Lucinda Childs (b. 1940, New York)
Virgil Marti (b. 1962, St. Louis)
Dianna Molzan (b. 1972, Tacoma, WA)
Joel Otterson (b. 1959, Los Angeles)
Laura Owens (b. 1970, Euclid, OH)
Howardena Pindell (b. 1943, Philadelphia)
Lari Pittman (b. 1952, Los Angeles)
Ruth Root (b. 1967, Chicago)
Lucas Samaras (b. 1936, Kastoria, Greece)
Zoe Pettijohn Schade (b. 1973, Boston)
Miriam Schapiro (b. 1923, Toronto; d. 2015, Hampton Bays, NY)
Ettore Sottsass (b. 1917, Innsbruck, Austria; d. 2007, Milan)
Frank Stella (b. 1936, Malden, MA)
Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974, Manila, Philippines)
Philip Taaffe (b. 1955, Elizabeth, NJ)
Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates (founded 1960 as Venturi & Associates, Philadelphia)
Marcel Wanders (b. 1963, Boxtel, The Netherlands)
Pae White (b. 1963, Pasadena, CA)
Kehinde Wiley (b. 1977, Los Angeles)
Franklin Williams (b. 1940, Ogden, UT)
Betty Woodman (b. 1930, Norwalk, CT; d. 2018, New York)
Christopher Wool (b. 1955, Chicago)
Haegue Yang (b. 1971, Seoul)
Ray Yoshida (b. 1930, Kapaa, Hawaii, HI; d. 2009, Kauai, HI)
Robert Zakanitch (b. 1935, Elizabeth, NJ)
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication with essays by Elissa Auther, Amy Goldin, and Jenelle Porter.
Please note: One work in this exhibition contains a video with rapidly changing, high-contrast imagery that creates a flashing effect.
International artists respond to the migration, immigration, and displacement of peoples today, in works ranging from personal accounts to poetic meditations.
When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art considers how contemporary artists are responding to the migration, immigration, and displacement of peoples today. We are currently witnessing the highest levels of movement on record—the United Nations estimates that one out of every seven people in the world is an international or internal migrant who moves by choice or by force, with great success or great struggle. When Home Won’t Let You Stay borrows its title from a poem by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet who gives voice to the experiences of refugees. Through artworks made since 2000 by twenty artists from more than a dozen countries — such as Colombia, Cuba, France, India, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States — this exhibition highlights diverse artistic responses to migration ranging from personal accounts to poetic meditations, and features a range of mediums, including sculpture, installation, painting, and video. Artists in the exhibition include Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, Isaac Julien, Hayv Kahraman, Reena Saini Kallat, Richard Mosse, Carlos Motta, Yinka Shonibare, Xaviera Simmons, and Do-Ho Suh, among others. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with an essay by Eva Respini and Ruth Erickson and texts by prominent scholars Aruna D’Souza, Okwui Enwezor, Thomas Keenan, Peggy Levitt, and Uday Singh Mehta, among others.
The ICA is extremely grateful to the generosity and input of the following advisors, who shared input on the exhibition and its language, programming, didactics, and outreach, over the course of several meetings:
Local organizations NuLawLab, Maverick Landing Community Services, ZUMIX, and the Golden Stairs Immigration Center in East Boston have been instrumental to Boston artist and advisory board member Anthony Romero’s community-based project …first in thought, then in action.
For further information on immigration and how you might lend or seek assistance, we refer you to local, national, and international organizations below. If you have recommendations of other organizations, please email email@example.com.
ACLU of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
City of Boston’s Immigrant Advancement Department (through the Mayor’s Office)
Political Asylum/Immigrant Representation (PAIR) Project
Berkshire Immigrant Center
East Boston Ecumenical Community Council
International Institute of New England
The Immigrant Learning Center
Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINCA)
Irish International Immigrant Center
Greater Boston Legal Services
Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights
Mass.gov: Office for Refugees & Immigrants
DHS: Yearbook of Immigration Statistics
Asian American Civic Association
North American Indian Center of Boston
The Inter-University Committee on International Migration, with MIT, Boston University, Brandeis University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard University, Tufts University, and Wellesley
Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights at Boston Medical Center
De Novo Center for Justice and Healing
American Society for International Law
International Criminal Court
DePaul University International Human Rights Law
Legal Research of International Law Issues Using the Internet
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
Immigration Lawyers on the Web
The Political Asylum/ Immigration Representation Project
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
The Refugee Media Project
National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP)
The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
Affordable Care Act Resources for Refugees
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
American Immigration Council
International Committee of the Red Cross
Doctors without Borders
International Organization for Migration
Junta for Progressive Action
Maine People’s Alliance
Make the Road New York
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrant Rights
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Immigration Council
International Rescue Committee
Migration Policy Institute
National Immigration Law Center
Pew Research Center
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
Refugee Council USA
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
After its conclusion in Boston, When Home Won’t Let You Stay will travel to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis from February 23 to August 23, 2020, and to the Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University February 5 to May 31, 2021.
“I photograph family, friends, and strangers, and I operate on the belief that my own being is found in union with those I take pictures of.”
This exhibition is the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Deana Lawson (b. 1979 in Rochester, NY), a singular voice in photography today. For more than 15 years, Lawson has been investigating and challenging conventional representations of Black life through a wide spectrum of photographic languages, including the family album, studio portraiture, staged tableaux, documentary pictures, and appropriated images. Engaging acquaintances as well as strangers she meets on the street, Lawson meticulously poses her subjects in highly staged photographs that picture narratives of family, love, and desire, and 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.”
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. Deana Lawson will travel to MoMA PS1 April 14–September 5, 2022 and to the High Museum October 7, 2022–February 19, 2023.
ICA/Boston presents the first comprehensive museum survey for American 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 culture, institutions, and labor. Spanning more than two decades of the artist’s career, the exhibition looks to the origins and development of his practice, through mediums ranging from lesser-known drawings and sculptures to his renowned ceramics and paintings.
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. Craft is central to his inquiry, as he explores California’s radical ceramics history and traditions of Amish quilt making, shaped by his upbringing in Pennsylvania Dutch country. The process of combining disparate elements is central to Ruby’s material reclamations, which serve as a form of autobiographical and cultural archeology. 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.
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, with a conversation between Ruby and Isabelle Graw. Published with DelMonico Prestel, the catalogue features essays that consider Ruby’s work amidst the contemporary art production and visual culture of the last 30 years.
Sterling Ruby (American/Dutch, b. 1972, Germany) is a leading contemporary artist whose work has been presented in solo exhibitions throughout the globe. Ruby received his B.F.A. in 2002 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, and his M.F.A. in 2005 from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
This is the first museum survey dedicated to the richly layered work of Firelei Báez (b. 1981, Dominican Republic). One of the most exciting painters of her generation, Báez delves into the historical narratives of the Atlantic basin. Over the past fifteen years, she has made work that explores the multilayered legacy of colonial histories and the African diaspora in the Caribbean and beyond. She draws on the disciplines of anthropology, geography, folklore, fantasy, science fiction, and social history to unsettle categories of race, gender, and nationality in her paintings, drawings, and installations. Her exuberant paintings feature finely wrought, complex, and layered uses of pattern, decoration, and saturated color, often overlaid on maps made during colonial rule in the Americas. Báez’s investment in the medium of painting and its capacity for storytelling and mythmaking informs all her work, including her sculptural installations, which bring this quality into three dimensions. This exhibition will offer audiences a timely opportunity to gain a holistic understanding of Báez’s complex and profoundly moving body of work, cementing her as one of the most important artists of the early 21st century. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue.
Childhood, a subject of universal significance and personal experience, provides a compelling framework for understanding the past and imagining the future. To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood investigates the influence of children and childhood on visual artists from the early 20th century to today. While artists have long been inspired by children—by their imagination, creativity, and unique ways of seeing and being in the world—the field of art history has largely undervalued the influence of children and the subject of childhood. Through vibrant works of art, this exhibition illustrates the diverse experiences of childhood and engages childhood as an intellectual query into language and learning. The six thematic sections of To Begin Again explore how artists have grappled with timely issues of self-expression, creativity, power, care, labor, and learning through their engagement with childhood.
“Children are the ways the world begins again and again.”
The exhibition features an international and intergenerational group of 40 artists whose works in painting, sculpture, photography, installation, and video offer distinctive viewpoints and experiences. The featured artists—many parents themselves—have made artwork that involves children as collaborators; mimics their ways of drawing or telling stories; and addresses ideas of innocence, spontaneity, and dependency closely associated with children. These artworks, along with a selection of works made by young people, reveal the multiform idea of childhood as the foundation upon which society is built, imagined, and negotiated. To Begin Again invites audiences of all ages to consider how children and childhood have inspired artists in making their work, and, in turn, how their work reflects, contributes to, and challenges perceptions of childhood.
Ann Agee (b. 1959, Philadelphia)
John Ahearn (b. 1952, Binghamton, New York) and Rigoberto Torres (b. 1960, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico)
Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983, Enugu, Nigeria)
Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerp, Belgium)
Jean-Michel Basquiat (b. 1960, Brooklyn, New York; d. 1988, New York)
Brian Belott (b. 1973, East Orange, New Jersey)
Jordan Casteel (b. 1989, Denver)
Lenka Clayton (b. 1977, Cornwall, United Kingdom)
Allan Rohan Crite (b. 1910, North Plainfield, New Jersey; d. 2007, Boston)
Henry Darger (b. 1892, Chicago; d. 1973, Chicago)
Karon Davis (b. 1977, Reno, Nevada)
Robert Gober (b. 1954, Wallingford, Connecticut)
Jay Lynn Gomez (b. 1986, San Bernardino, California)
Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City)
Duane Hanson (b. 1925, Alexandria, Minnesota; d. 1996, Boca Raton, Florida)
Mona Hatoum (b. 1952, Beirut)
Sharon Hayes (b. 1970, Baltimore)
Ekua Holmes (b. 1955, Roxbury, Massachusetts)
Mary Kelly (b. 1941, Fort Dodge, Iowa)
Paul Klee (b. 1879, Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland; d. 1940, Muralto, Switzerland)
Justine Kurland (b. 1969, Warsaw, New York)
Helen Levitt (b. 1913, Brooklyn, New York; d. 2009, New York)
Tau Lewis (b. 1993, Toronto)
Glenn Ligon (b. 1960, New York)
Oscar Murillo (b. 1986, Valle del Cauca, Colombia)
Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil)
Berenice Olmedo (b. 1987, Oaxaca, Mexico)
Charles Ray (b. 1953, Chicago)
Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, Harlem)
Deborah Roberts (b. 1962, Austin, Texas)
Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (b. 1955, Pittsfield, Maine; d. 2017, New York)
Rachel Rose (b. 1986, New York)
Heji Shin (b. 1983, Seoul)
Sable Elyse Smith (b. 1986, Los Angeles)
Becky Suss (b. 1980, Philadelphia)
Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. 1939, Denver)
Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Carmen Winant (b. 1983, San Francisco)
To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood has been designed with an intergenerational audience in mind. Many artworks are displayed at a lower than standard height, and with labels including descriptions written at both adult and third-grade reading levels. Labels written at a third-grade reading level invite younger visitors to read and discuss what they see with one another and the adults accompanying them. The exhibition also includes an interactive drawing table where visitors can to contribute their own drawings, and a reading room developed in conversation with librarians from Boston Public Schools, Boston Public Library, and a children’s book author. The reading room welcomes visitors of all ages to explore the world of children’s literature as a site of significant artistic production. Explore the book list
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue, featuring the voices and perspectives of a variety of artists, scholars, and writers.
Hear exclusive audio from artists Trenton Doyle Hancock, Ekua Holmes, Deborah Roberts, and Carmen Winant, plus curators Ruth Erickson and Jeffrey De Blois, on the ICA Digital Guide on Bloomberg Connects
Anna Craycroft’s website Childishism is a visual essay commissioned for the catalogue accompanying To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood. Childishism takes the form of an imagined search engine that algorithmically maps an associative history between artistic representations of the childish. For Craycroft, “when artists personify the childish or childhood in their work, a deeper social imaginary is revealed.”
Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago) represented the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, one of the largest and most important contemporary art exhibitions in the world. Selections from Leigh’s landmark Venice presentation are making their U.S. premiere in Boston, joined by key works from throughout her career, providing a holistic understanding of the artist’s production in ceramic, bronze, and video.
For over two decades, Leigh has embraced a polyphonic artistic vocabulary that elaborates on Black feminist thought, an intellectual tradition which values and centers the experiences of Black women. Informed by a rigorous attention to a wide swath of historical periods, geographies, and artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora, Leigh often combines the female body with domestic vessels or architectural elements to point to unacknowledged acts of labor and care, particularly among and for Black women.
Clay forms the basis of most of Leigh’s artworks, including her bronze sculptures, which are first modeled in clay. The artist pushes the medium’s possibilities through scale and method, challenging conventional, hierarchical fine arts histories, which can still attach to ceramics associations around women’s labor, decoration, domestic crafts, and utility. This exhibition traces the artist’s unique visual language through signature motifs, including cowrie shells, braiding, rosettes, face vessels, and eyeless faces. Through Leigh’s re-performing of these forms in varying materials and scales, new structures of thought and meanings emerge, each consistently centering the experiences and intellectual labor of Black femmes.
Accompanied by a major monograph, this exhibition offers visitors a timely opportunity to experience the complex and profoundly moving work of this groundbreaking artist.
Simone Leigh will tour to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (November 3, 2023–March 3, 2024) and a joint presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles (May 26, 2024–January 20, 2025).
Boston public school teachers can apply to receive a free ICA classroom art kit that includes an art making lesson and art supplies such as clay, raffia, and more. Each kit accommodates 25 students.
Poss Family Mediatheque
The Mediatheque features a library of resources on black feminism, in partnership with Frugal Bookstore — Boston’s only Black-owned bookstore — and highlights the U.S. Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale. See a list of recommended books
Audio responses to selected works in the exhibition students by students Spelman College’s AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective will be available in the Mediatheque and on the ICA’s Digital Guide on Bloomberg Connects. Written texts by the students are available on simoneleighvenice2022.org. Listen now
Bank of America Art Lab
Boston-based artist Elisa Hamilton’s participatory installation Can You See Me? invites visitors to reflect on identity through image and what we choose to share about ourselves.