45 Minutes at the MFA: High-Tech Fashion, Picasso, and a Manlift Installation?

I’ve discovered, over three decades of museum visits, that when it comes to time spent and works seen, less is often more. I used to feel guilty admitting it, but no longer. Because when I limit myself and absorb only as much as I feel I need to fuel or inspire or educate me in that moment, I find that the experience becomes more meaningful and lasts longer. 

With that in mind, I squeezed in a visit to the MFA today.

img_5211I can’t seem to help starting every visit in the bright atrium with the towering Chihuli glass sculpture. It never fails to thrill me. But today, I got even more kicks from the space with this towering bike installation by Beijing-based artist Ai Weiwei that reminded me of my years in Copenhagen (and also, sadly, of how inaccessible biking in Boston feels by comparison): 

And then, in the opposite corner, I encountered this: 

 A manlift! No sign, no artist name. Was it just a manlift? Was it an installation? Is the MFA asking us to question the definition of art and ever-more-blurry line between life and art? I’m on the edge of my seat hoping someone will enlighten me.

But on to the featured exhibits. I then wandered over to #techstyle (get it?) which stunningly blurs the lines between technology and fashion. I knew 3-D printing had come a long way, but I had no idea you could make a wearable (and I would absolutely wear this red number, given the chance) dress. Here are some of the highlights: 

 

 

 The one-room Pairing Picasso exhibit is just one gallery away, and the proximity of the two makes you imagine what a field day Picasso would have had with #techstyle’s deconstruction of traditional haute couture, which often bears an uncanny resemblance to Picasso’s own deconstruction of the human form. This #techform/Picasso pairing may not quite be the one the curators had in mind – but for me this was the most striking juxtaposition of all.
  
 Walking home along the Muddy River, it occurred to me that, for me at least, the enjoyment of art has to do with connections.

That’s the reason I started this blog and the reason I keep coming back to write about my encounters. I think what makes art fascinating is what it achieves in the eye of the beholder.

Today, the connection between the futuristic dresses and Picasso’s forms sparked a sense of artistic continuity.

The 3-D wear reminded me of the time I worked with a client that created some of the first 3-D printers, and highlighted how incredibly fast technology evolves – and how artfully people make technology human.

And this image at the #techstyle entrance reminded me of the movie Ex Machina, which I saw last week and still can’t shake.  A museum visit that took less than an hour pieced together quite a few of my experiences into a made sense of apparent randomness. I think that at its best, this is what art can do for us, whether we are its creators or observers: make sense of our world and validate our reactions and experiences, whatever they may be.

 

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