Hip-Hop Art and French Innovators

Claude Monet's painting of clouds, fields, and poplars

The Museum of Fine Arts reopened for in-person visits this fall, and is celebrating its 150th anniversary with three distinct shows. The major exhibition, “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” (October 18-May 16), gathers more than 120 works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and 11 from peers like Keith Haring, Lady Pink, and Fab 5 Freddy (Return of God to Africa, 1984, below). All reflect a graffiti-rooted strain of 1980s social defiance, and unique conceptual expressions born of urban life and street art. The exhibit explores how aspects of the early hip-hop movement—graffiti, rapping, break dancing—spawned, and were further developed through, Basquiat’s and others’ deeply experimental pro­jects. They forged a multidisciplinary pop art that in many ways continues to revolutionize the mainstream art scene.

Fred Brathwaite/Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Art

The museum also offers 35 paintings by another groundbreaking artist in “Monet and Boston: Lasting Impression” (November 15-February 28). Winter visitors can revel in Claude Monet’s visionary garden at Giverny, and take heart from his freshly conceived worlds awash in color and light, as in Meadow with Poplars (circa 1875). The landscapes, portraits, and still lifes of his contemporary, Paul Cézanne, are arrestingly different, however. “Cézanne: In and Out of Time” (November 11-February 28) looks at how and why that is, focusing on 12 of his paintings alongside works by peers like Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, and Auguste Renoir.

Many of the museum’s permanent galleries have also reopened. Advanced, timed-entry tickets, sold online or by phone only, are required; check the website for special hours for discounted admission and COVID-19-vulnerable visitors.

Read more articles by: Nell Porter Brown

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