Open Today 10 AM – 9 PM
Admission is free from 5 to 9 PM on ICA Free Thursdays.

Get tickets

Advance tickets are recommended and are available for visits through October. Book now

Please Note

Select galleries are currently closed for the installation of Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s—Today, opening Oct 5.

An acclaimed artist working primarily in the media of photography, film, and video, Shirin Neshat creates art that contends primarily with the experiences and struggles of Iranian women through the lens of religion, femininity, and modernity. Neshat’s film and photographs are concerned with the social relationships between women and men in Muslim societies and prompt important questions on representations of Muslim women in contemporary art. The photograph Untitled is from a series made the same year titled Passage, depicting scenes from Neshat’s single-channel video Passage from 2001. With an accompanying score by the composer Philip Glass (who originally commissioned Passage), the video was originally shot on 35mm film in the Moroccan seaside city Essaouira, and in the Moroccan desert at a halfway point between Marrakesh and Casablanca. The video is composed in three parts: the first follows a group of men carrying a body prepared for burial; the second, a group of women preparing a place for burial by digging into the ground with their hands; and the third, a young girl playing alone as the burial concludes with a funeral pyre. This photograph draws from the second part of the film, showing the women in a tight circle on their hands and knees, conflating the forms of their huddled bodies with the dry, rocky landscape. Likewise, their tightly gathered bodies resemble the form of the funeral pyre, layering nuanced meaning through these visual metaphors on the role of gender, performance, and ritual. 

Sandra Cinto rose to prominence in the late 1980s. In her drawing-based work, she develops the possibilities of line at an architectural scale, and brings attention to the multiple layers of visual experience. Cinto often depicts the landscape in spare yet florid compositions that invoke the sublime and emphasize turbulence in seascapes, rainstorms, and blustery skies. She is frequently commissioned to create large-scale, site-specific works in which she drapes spaces in wide swaths of lush, blue-tinted drawings, pushing the limits of the medium. In these spiraling, expansive works, Cinto offers the rigors of travel across challenging terrain as a metaphor for human ambition.

​Although Cinto is less known for her photographic work, the medium allows her to explore many of the themes that inform her environmental works, namely, the play between flatness and depth, transparency and opacity, and drawing and three-dimensional space. In Untitled, a ghostly bluish-green hand floats within the frame against an indeterminate background. The glass separating the viewer from the image has been streaked and scored by longitudinal etching marks, as if the glass had been shattered, rupturing the serenity of the milky composition. The hand’s tensely curled and truncated fingers, coupled with the scarred glass that encases it, lend the work an eerie, disquieting air.

​This multimedia work by Cinto builds on the ICA/Boston’s growing collection of late twentieth-century photography and artworks that dissolve the divide between photography, sculpture, and painting, such as those by Gilbert and George, Leslie Hewitt, and Annette Lemieux. It also adds to the ICA’s burgeoning collection of Latin American art.

2014.14

Performance and photography are fused in Cindy Sherman’s now-signature “self-portraits.” Since the mid-1970s, she has photographed herself in theatrically staged environments, transforming her appearance with cosmetics, costumes, and wigs. After finishing the black-and-white Untitled Film Stills in 1980, Sherman turned to color, focusing her work as actor/director/photographer on issues of women and celebrity, fashion photography, and advertising. She and cohorts Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Longo came to be known as the “Pictures Generation” on account of their critical appropriation of images from consumer and media culture.

While the subjects in the Untitled Film Stills are generic types, in Untitled Sherman mimics a specific actress: Marilyn Monroe. Sherman’s recreation of the American idol relies on many small details—from the blond hair and red lipstick to the hairline and parted lips. Seated on the floor against a backdrop (the rolled bottom of which is visible), the female figure is dressed in rustic clothing: a tan button-down shirt, blue pants, and leather booties. Though no corresponding photograph of Monroe has been identified, the reference is so persuasive that Sherman’s identity becomes subsumed by Monroe’s, an effect that distinguishes the image from the wholly invented, “simulacral” (art historian Rosalind Krauss’s term) stills of the Untitled Film Stills. Sherman thereby expands and complicates the possibilities that portraiture offers in her exploration of the mutability of identity. As the artist describes her own experience: “I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.”

The addition of Untitled to the ICA/Boston’s collection of prints from Sherman’s early Untitled Film Stills shows where the artist would next go in her work. It also enhances the ICA’s holdings of work by contemporary photographers, such as Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin, whose works likewise interrogate the staged portrait.

2014.39

Cindy Sherman is known for fusing performance and photography in identity-morphing “self-portraits.” Since the mid-1970s, she has photographed herself as various female character types in staged environments, transforming her appearance with costumes, makeup, and wigs. The sixty-nine black-and-white images in Untitled Film Stills construct and reiterate stereotypes of postwar femininity, and were Sherman’s seminal foray into her now-signature photographic practice. She began the series in 1977, shortly after moving to New York City, and continued it until, as she says, she “ran out of clichés” in 1980. Sherman and her New York cohort in the 1980s, including Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Longo, came to be known as the “Pictures Generation” on account of their critical appropriation of images from consumer and media culture.

Untitled Film Still #63 depicts a young woman on the stairs of a building, wearing a dress, trench coat, and heavy boots. Stopped in her ascent, she turns back, gazing over her left shoulder toward the camera. Something has caught her attention and she turns to look at it, bringing her hand to her chin to hold back her hair. Her expression conveys a sense of concentration or perhaps consternation at what she sees. As in many of the Untitled Film Stills, because the image evokes the familiar narrative tropes of Hollywood, the viewer is encouraged to fill in the next frame and imaginatively complete the narrative.

The ICA/Boston possesses a number of Sherman’s photographs, including an expanding set of prints from the Untitled Film Stills series. Untitled Film Still #63 enhances the ICA’s holdings of work by important contemporary photographers, such as Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin, whose works likewise generate questions about the ambiguities of the staged photograph.

2014.43

The series Untitled Film Stills, 1977–80, marks Cindy Sherman’s seminal foray into her now-signature photographic practice. Reimagining the genre of portraiture, she plays the roles of both actor and director, transforming her persona with simple props and costumes, makeup, and wigs to mimic filmic stereotypes of postwar femininity. Though invented, the scenes in Untitled Film Stills appear disarmingly familiar. After producing sixty-nine black-and-white photographs, Sherman “ran out of clichés,” and ended the series. In New York City in the 1980s, she and her cohort, including Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Longo, formed what has been called the “Pictures Generation,” artists who critically appropriated images from consumer and media culture.

Untitled Film Still #54 portrays a woman walking down a street at night toward the viewer, pulling the collar of her trench-coat to her neck. Resembling Marilyn Monroe in her facial features and blond bouffant, the figure is starkly lit by the flash of a camera in the surrounding darkness. Her pose is one of self-concealment and protection, as if she were being accosted on a nighttime walk by a paparazzo. As in many of the Untitled Film Stills, the evocation of Hollywood movies encourages the viewer to anticipate the storyline’s possible outcomes.

The ICA/Boston possesses a number of Sherman’s photographs, including an expanding set of examples from the Untitled Film Stills series. Untitled Film Still #54 enhances the ICA’s holdings of work by the important contemporary photographers, including Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin, who are also interested in the staged mise-en-scène.

2014.42

Since the mid-1970s, Cindy Sherman has been photographing herself in staged environments, transforming her appearance with costumes, makeup, and wigs. She began the series Untitled Film Stills in 1977 and continued it until 1980, by which time it comprised sixty-nine black-and-white photographic images that construct and reiterate stereotypes of postwar femininity. The series marks Sherman’s seminal foray into her now-signature practice, in which she reimagines the genre of portraiture by playing the roles of actor, director, and photographer herself. Sherman and her cohort in New York in the 1980s, including Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Longo, formed what has been called the “Pictures Generation” on account of their critical appropriation of images of consumer and media culture.

Untitled Film Still #48 shows a woman standing at the roadside with a suitcase beside her, presumably waiting for a car to round the bend and pick her up. The scene is infused with foreboding. Turned away from the camera with her arms crossed behind her back, dressed in a plaid skirt and sneakers, the woman exudes a schoolgirl innocence and naiveté that only heightens the uncertainty about her fate. A network of unseen gazes––the subject’s, the photographer’s, and the viewer’s––all situate the female figure as passive object. As in many of the Untitled Film Stills, here Sherman exploits a host of narrative tropes familiar from Hollywood movies to trigger the viewer’s imagination.

The ICA/Boston possesses a number of Sherman’s photographs, including an expanding selection from the Untitled Film Stills series. Untitled Film Still #48 enhances the ICA’s holdings of work by important contemporary photographers, including Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin, whose works likewise generate questions about the meaning of the staged portrait.

2014.41

Cindy Sherman is known for identity-morphing “self-portraits” that explore female character types. Since her days as a student in Buffalo in the mid-1970s, Sherman has been taking increasingly flamboyant photographs of herself in staged environments, transforming her appearance with costumes, makeup, wigs, and props. She began the black-and-white photographic series Untitled Film Stills, 1977–80, shortly after moving to New York City. Ultimately comprising sixty-nine images, Untitled Film Stills presents images that reiterate stereotypes of postwar femininity. In this reimagining of the genre of portraiture, Sherman plays the dual roles of director and actor, viewer and viewed, maker and subject. In the 1980s, Sherman and her cohort in New York, including Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine, and Robert Longo, formed what has been called the “Pictures Generation” on account of their critical appropriation of everyday images of consumer and media culture.

Untitled Film Still #44 shows a woman standing expectantly on the platform of a train station. Leaning against a wall with her head turned over her right shoulder, she appears to be awaiting the arrival of a train and its passengers. She is smartly dressed in a pencil skirt and a scarf, an outfit that recalls, as does the train station, a previous era. One quickly envisions the person she awaits and what will come of their reunion. As in many of the Untitled Film Stills, Sherman’s use of familiar narrative tropes from Hollywood movies leads the viewer to complete the narrative as if filling in the next frame of a film.

The ICA/Boston possesses a number of Sherman’s photographs, including an expanding set of examples of the Untitled Film Stills series. Untitled Film Still #44 enhances the museum’s holdings of work by the most important contemporary photographers, including Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Rineke Dijkstra, and Nan Goldin, whose works continue to generate questions about the truth of the staged portrait.

2014.40

Ana Mendieta came to prominence in the 1970s for her fusion of performance, feminist, and land art. She used her own body in interaction with the landscape to make connections between nature and the femme body. Mendieta documented many of her performances in photographs and films. Despite an abbreviated career (she died in 1985 at the age of 36), she continues to be an influential artist within histories and contemporary practices of land art, feminist art, and performance.

Mendieta came to the United States from Cuba as a teenager in 1961, in forced exile. This difficult cultural and familial separation left an indelible mark on her work, which often explored themes of transience and mortality. Mendieta began the Silueta series in 1973 while on a trip to pre-Columbian sites in Oaxaca, Mexico, with fellow intermedia MFA students at the University of Iowa.

She visited pre-Columbian sites and became interested in Indigenous Central American and Caribbean culture and rituals, incorporating ancient goddess archetypes and notions of feminine life force in her work. For her first Silueta work, Mendieta lay nude in a Zapotec tomb with white flowers strewn over her body. She went on to create many more Siluetas in Mexico and Iowa, covering her body with a wide range of substances, including rocks, blood, sticks, and cloth. She also carved her figure directly into the earth, with arms overhead to represent the merger of earth and sky, or sometimes imprinting the silhouette of her body on the landscape.

Captivated by the natural landscape, Mendieta’s ephemeral sculptures interact directly with the landscape. The photographic and filmic documents of these ephemeral works suggest the fragility of the human being in relation to the forces of nature. While photographs from the Silueta Series are often presented individually, seen together, they suggest Mendieta’s sustained interest in various female archetypes and the cycles of nature and life.

2014.30.1–12

Louise Lawler explores the contexts in which works of art are viewed and circulated. Working primarily in photography, since the late 1970s she has recorded art in collectors’ homes, museums, auction houses, commercial galleries, and corporate offices, whether installed above copier machines or piled on loading docks and in storage closets. In documenting these sites, she frames the strategies of display—from the labels that accompany the art objects to their location—to bring attention to the ways these spaces shape the meaning and reception of art after it leaves the artist’s studio. Her work is often associated with institutional critique for its exposure of art world machinations and with the “Pictures Generation,” a group of artists that includes Sherrie Levine, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, and others known for their strategies of appropriation. Witty and trenchant, her photographs are more than mirrors in which the art world sees itself; they reposition the viewer to engage critically and affectively with art’s presentationand dissemination.

In Untitled, Andy Warhol’s 70 S & H Green Stamps, 1962, is seen installed on a wall at Christie’s. Warhol’s work showcases his fascination with readymade, reproducible imagery, here the banal motif of Sperry & Hutchinson (S&H) company trading stamps, which Warhol has, rather ironically, hand-stamped on the paper. Lawler’s choice of this work as a focus at the auction house initiates a dialogue between Warhol’s own interest in consumer society and the metamorphosis of an artwork into a commodity. The second label to the left underscores that Warhol’s work is one among many objects being sold at auction, as multiple as the subjects he depicted.

Lawler’s Untitled builds on the ICA/Boston’s collection of work by contemporary photographers, especially those who came of age artistically in the 1980s, including Nan Goldin, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman. Furthermore, it strengthens a burgeoning specialization in conceptual and text-based photography demonstrated by such artists as Sophie Calle and Lorna Simpson.

2014.29

Nan Goldin makes her art from her life. For over thirty years, she has photographed her friends and her scene with an eye that is part documentarian, part poète maudit. Her photographs from the late 1970s and ’80s capture a particularly lively moment in Boston’s past, when she and artists such as David Armstrong, Mark Morrisroe, and Jack Pierson lived and worked in the city, forming what is often referred to as the “Boston School.”

Matt and Lewis in the Tub Kissing, Cambridge captures a poignant encounter, picturing two of her friends tenderly embracing in a bathtub. As is often the case with Goldin’s photographs, one is left wondering how the artist gains such unencumbered access to others’ lives while conveying the impression that the subjects are unaware of her presence. The piece’s significance in relation to Boston extends beyond its maker and subject matter to its role in a notorious censorship controversy. In 1996, the photograph was selected for an exhibition of 325 works of art to be presented in the International Place building as part of ARTcetera, a benefit for Boston’s AIDS Action Committee. The owner of the building, the Chiofaro Company, ordered ten of the images draped and later removed because of their content. In the end, the company reversed its decision on all but two works, one being Matt and Lewis in the Tub Kissing, Cambridge. Both the censored works featured male couples.

In 1985, the ICA/Boston presented Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, making the museum one of the first to exhibit her work; since that time, Goldin has become one of the most influential photographers of her generation. Matt and Lewis in the Tub Kissing, Cambridge, then, marks both the ICA’s early recognition of Goldin and an important historical moment in the city of Boston.

2006.8