MFA has new director

WBUR reports the appointment of Matthew Teitelbaum, currently director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, which his father, artist Mashel Teitelbaum, used to picket as being elitist - which brings us to an open letter to Teitelbaum by Greg Cook, who knows something about combating elitism at the MFA.

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Looking forward to hearing

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Looking forward to hearing the new director's vision for the MFA.

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Probably true

LOL, if you don't think the MFA is a matriarchy I don't think you know a lot about it.

(And, PS., a major art museum in the US - in Brahmin Boston even - having a gay director for 21 years is a pretty damn good accomplishment.)

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World class!

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I had to laugh that the phrase 'world class city' was used in the Greg Cook post. There are truly some world class things about metro Boston (Harvard, MIT, medical stuff) but it's still funny how often that phrase comes up. In this case, I do think it's odd to state that our museums are world-class in many ways, but don't have enough representation of local artists. So if only the museums had more local content, they'd be world class?

MFA (very nice) vs. the Met or Louvre is a pretty good comp for which tier of city Boston is on the global 'class' scale vs NYC or Paris.

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For its size, the Boston

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For its size, the Boston metro area could be considered world class for certain genres -- consider the collections of the MFA, Gardner Museum and Harvard, they are pretty damn good for 19th century impressionism and post-impressionism. Can any city really compare to Paris or the other major European cultrual centers when it comes to western art? Obviously not. Of course NYC would come closest and Chicago is fantastic, but don't knock Boston -- we do alright here. It doesn't need to be a competition, does it?

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No, it's not a competition

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I agree. I think Boston is fine for what it is, which is why I think it's funny how local people can't seem to resist calling it a 'world class city'.

Why can't we just enjoy living somewhere better than Columbus, Ohio or Pittsburgh and call it enough?

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Can you be local and world class?

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Forgive me, I wasn't trying to say including locally-made art would make our museums world class. (And I agree with you that the term "world class" is annoying--particularly as it's thrown around (kinda desperately) in Boston--but I'm trying to reach people who think in these terms.)

The MFA is one of the best museums in the world when it comes to its core strengths--exhibitions of French Impressionism, some European old masters, John Singer Sargent, old Japanese art, etc. But, and this is a separate thing, it's not that strong at representing the art made here--even the local folks in the history books, like the books widely used in schools. The point being that it's not risky to show those local folks, the "experts" have already signed off on their merit.

That local part is actually different from Paris museums or NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which have long given major attention to art being made in their neighborhoods, old and new. Some might argue that that's because the stuff coming out of NYC and Paris is better than stuff from elsewhere so those museums aren't really being "local"; they're being "international" by showing locally made art. There's definitely a lot of great artists who've gone through those towns.

But it's worth noting that over the past couple centuries those two cities--their museums, schools, publishing--have also been the folks writing the history, deciding who's in and out, and they have biases (recognized or not) toward the stuff close at hand (if only because it's easier for the people making the decisions to see). So the decisions aren't straight merit. I mean, are they ever for anything?

But our museums act like that NYC/Paris-centric history is only decided on merit and it's the only story worth telling.

Let me put this another way. Imagine if the folks who own the Red Sox were all proud, outspoken Yankees fans. And they were always rubbing it in your face. And they made it very clear that they didn't care whether the Red Sox won as long as the visiting teams were exciting. Or important. Or something. So they invested little in improving the home team. Or promoting it. Instead they sunk all their money and energy into supporting the Yankees and promoting games when the Yankees were in town and telling you of the Yankees' legendary history. That's the Boston museum world.

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Thanks for the comment

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I appreciate the expanded explanation and context. I was largely being snarky about the world class part, so please don't read that as being dismissive of your point.

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