5. A GOOD YEAR
NEW AND IMPROVED: The Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed ICA opened on the waterfront.
The MFA didn’t serve up any blockbusters on the order of the Met’s “Fra Angelico” (see #7), but with shows that included “Facets of Cubism,” “Degas to Picasso: Modern Masters,” “David Hockney Portraits” (complete with a trenchant and edifying appearance by the artist), Laura McPhee’s “River of No Return,” “Americans in Paris 1860–1900,” “Domains of Wonder: Masterworks of Indian Painting,” and “Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006,” it had nothing to apologize for.
6. WIND FROM THE EAST
“Bellini and the East” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum chronicled the journey made by Gentile (not his better-known brother Giovanni) Bellini to Istanbul in 1479, at the conclusion of a peace between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, in response to Sultan Mehmed II’s request for a Venetian painter. The MFA’s “Domains of Wonder: Masterworks of Indian Painting,” with more than 100 paintings from the 14th to the 19th century, reminded us that till, say, Hollywood films, there was little visual art as seductively romantic as Indian miniatures. And the breathtaking “Cosmophilia,” at Boston College’s McMullen Museum, assembled more than 100 works from the David Collection in Copenhagen to study decoration — figures, calligraphy, geometry, floral pattern — emerging from the Islamic cultures of Western Europe to East Asia from the seventh to the 19th century.
7. ANGEL ART
Modern art arose in the 15th century, at the dawn of Renaissance humanism, when artists began to paint what they saw rather than what they knew. Nothing could be less modern than Fra Angelico, whose “figures” are relationships rather than individuals. Even without that part — the major part — of his work that’s immovable, like the San Marco frescoes in Florence, the “Fra Angelico” show at the Met challenged you to think about visible and invisible in art.
8. SUMMER OUT OF THE CITY
The Peabody Essex Museum’s “Painting Summer in New England” spanned just about every possible concept of summer; it didn’t have much focus, but it did have you asking what summer meant to New England, especially in the “girls of summer” work of Frank Benson and Edmund Tarbell. At the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute of Art, “The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings” recorded the collecting war between Sterling and Stephen Clark, early-20th-century heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, with their acquisitions — major Manets and Renoirs and Monets and Van Goghs and Cézannes, Sargents and Hoppers and Matisses — hung side by side to make you think about who bought what and why.
9. WORTHY OF NOTE
“Dana Schutz: Works from 2002–2005” at the Rose; “Frank Stella 1958” at the Sackler; “The Beaver Project: An Exhibition by Shintaro Miyake” and “Crafty” at Mass College of Art; “America Starts Here: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler” at the List; Ryan McGinness at Montserrat College of Art; “Dr. Harold E. Edgerton: Classic & Vintage Photographs: 1932–1986” at Gallery Kayafas.
: Museum And Gallery
, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fra Angelico, Laura McPhee, More