Share This Article
October 22, 2022–April 9, 2023
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presents the first major American survey of Frank Bowling’s work in over four decades.
Frank Bowling (born 1934), motivated by a desire to broaden the scope of painting, traveled to New York City in 1966. His first transatlantic move had been in 1953 when he left British Guiana, where he was born, for London. Bowling mapped out a path of significant artistic exploration and self-determination during the ensuing ten years, which he spent living primarily in New York. Frank Bowling’s Americas, which made its debut at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), explores this crucial early period of the boundary-pushing artist’s career for the first time. More than 30 of Bowling’s potent paintings are on display in their native land, including enormous, vibrant canvases and rarely seen pieces on loan from private collectors. Following its presentation at the MFA from October 22, 2022 through April 9, 2023, Frank Bowling’s Americas will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), where it will be on view from May 13 through September 10, 2023.
The exhibition is organized at the MFA by Reto Thüring, Beal Family Chair of Contemporary Art; Debra Lennard, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Contemporary Art; and consulting curator Akili Tommasino, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“To have an exhibition of this scale in the US after so much time has passed is a real thrill. America gave me the freedom to make the art that I wanted to make and allowed me to forge my own path. It was incredibly liberating. It gives me a kick to see all these paintings together and be reminded of what an exciting place New York was for art and artists in the 1960s and 70s,” said Sir Frank.
The MFA has begun a one-year cross-institutional relationship with UMass Boston and Stony Brook University, New York, where Bowling formed 5+1 in 1969, in conjunction with Frank Bowling’s Americas. Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Al Loving, Jack Whitten, and William T. Williams, five African American artists with whom Bowling had a similar interest in the potential of abstraction, were featured in the exhibition together with work by Bowling, the “plus one” for the show. Although 5+1 raised issues that are still relevant today, such as representation, agency, and biased institutional frameworks, there aren’t many resources available for further study. The MFA’s collaboration with undergraduate students at UMass Boston and doctorate researchers at Stony Brook explores the significance of 5+1 in 1969 and today through a digital project and satellite exhibitions at both universities opening in November 2022.
“The years during which New York was Bowling’s primary residence not only mark a chapter of astonishing innovation in his painting, but also active engagement with the vital debates among Black artists regarding forms their artistic practice should take, and where and how Black artists—long excluded from US museums—should exhibit their work. It is also against this broader historical background that the meaning of Bowling’s work between 1966 and 1975 continues to resonate profoundly today” said Thüring.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The MFA uses art to bridge various cultures. Our renowned collection of approximately 500,000 works, which comprises masterpieces from antiquity to the modern era, tells a complex tale of the human experience—a tale that has a different meaning for everyone. Visitors from all over the world, from people in Boston to tourists from other countries, come to enjoy the MFA. The Museum unites varied viewpoints via both art and audience, uncovering links, examining differences, and fostering a sense of belonging for all. Plan your visit
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue
Avenue of the Arts
Boston, MA 02115
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–5pm,
T +1 617 267 9300