I recently had the opportunity to check out some of the exhibits running at two of the biggest Art Museums here in Boston, most notably “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and “Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand” at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Now, I like Renaissance art in general, though at times the emphasis on portrature can become a tad annoying(oh my, the nephew of the Archduke of Milan holding a duck… marvelous!), and the repeted depictions of certian biblical scenes can get a bit tiresome. This exhibit, though, just about floored me.

Tintoretto, Kickin' it like a Gangsta

Tintoretto, Kickin' it like a Gangsta

The first thing I loved was the way that it was designed. Similar paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese are not only placed side by side so that you can compare their interpretations, but also placed in relation to each other, so that you can see how one particular artist’s conception of a theme evolved. Very cool stuff.

Likewise, the selection is just plain masterful. With such a huge variety of art to pick from, it would be easy to just throw up as many paintings by the artists as the museum could get it’s hands on– but instead, this exhibition was restrained and pointed. Every painting served as a specific and unique element to the exhibition as a whole.

Where the Venitian Renaissance Exhibit wowed me with it’s design and thoughtfulness, the Shepard Fairey just kicked my ass. It’s easy to dismiss Fairey once you’ve seen the 800th or so iteration of the “Obey” theme, but this exhibit (the first ever of his work) showed a depth of interest in style in his prolific career that you miss from the scatter shot stickers, t-shirts and murals that now coat most major American cities.

"War by Numbers"

"War by Numbers"

While it’s hard to pick out any specific piece of his art as a master work or anything like that, what’s clear from this exhibition is that Shepard Fairey has managed to create a phenomenon– even if it is one with out a clear purpose or message. The brilliant thing about him is that he has managed to create a booming voice for himself based on the non-sensical “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” campaign, and it is only lately that he has begun to use that voice to any actual effect. Very, very engaging stuff.

Also worth checking out at the MFA are the exhibits currently running about advertisements from the late 19th Century (I’m a sucker for Art Nouveau) and their Photography galleries… pretty much always. The ICA also has a cool exhibit on experimental situational film running that’s worth looking at, and it’s worth the price of admission alone for their permanent gallery and the fabulous space it’s housed in.

And since I couldn’t be satisfied with just one representative Fairey picture…

"Two Sides of Capitalism: Good" (Not pictured: evil.)

"Two Sides of Capitalism: Good" (Not pictured: evil.)

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