FELIX: South African artist William Kentridge gets his first Boston solo show at Mass College of Art and Design.
Over the past decade, museum building has boomed across the region. The expanded Peabody Essex Museum in Salem and the new Institute of Contemporary Art were among the first projects completed. Harvard and the Isabella Gardner Museum have construction under way. And this fall, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Addison Gallery in Andover debut new expansions and renovations. Looking ahead to Boston’s autumn exhibitions, we see that these projects are not only transforming the art scene’s gallery capacity but also its ambitions.
ART OF THE AMERICAS WING | Museum of Fine Arts | opens November 20 | The new Norman Foster–designed, four-story Art of the Americas Wing increases the MFA’s square footage by 28 percent to show off a collection ranging from an ancient Olmec mask to Paul Revere silver to a masterpiece 1890s quilt by former slave Harriet Powers to a Jackson Pollock drip painting. As if that weren’t enough, this fall the MFA’s sprawling old wings feature the custom couture of mid-20th-century designer Arnold Scaasi (September 25–June 19) and Jean-François Millet’s 19th-century paintings of rural France (September 4–May 30). | 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | $20 | 617.267.9300 or mfa.org
“RIGHT THING THE WRONG WAY: THE STORY OF HIGHWATER BOOKS” | Fourth Wall Project | October 1-24 | Highwater Books — which publisher Tom Devlin founded in Somerville in 1997, and which went bust in 2004 — brought a newly arty sense of design to comics, transforming the look of funny books across North America. The Highwater gang reunite here for a retrospective survey to include Brian Ralph from Providence’s legendary Fort Thunder collective, Ron Rege (later drummer for the band Lavender Diamond), Megan Kelso, Jef Czekaj, Jordan Crane, Kurt Wolfgang, Marc Bell, and — full disclosure — me. | 132 Brookline Ave, Boston | Free | 617.421.1550 or fourthwallproject.com
“WILLIAM KENTRIDGE: AMBIVALENT AFFINITIES & PROJECTS” | Massachusetts College of Art and Design | October 4–December 11 | Animator William Kentridge might be called the artist laureate of post-apartheid South Africa. His first solo show in Boston surveys drawings, prints, sculpture, and his signature grimy, dreamlike, allegorical animations from 1989 to the present. Representative is Kentridge’s 1993 film Felix in Exile, made just before South Africa’s first democratic elections, in which Nelson Mandela was elected president: a naked middle-aged white man pores over drawings in a lonely gray room as the changing landscape swallows bleeding black corpses. | 621 Huntington Ave, Boston | Free | 617.879.7333 or massart.edu/galleries.html
“JOHN OSORIO-BUCK: THE WEST IS NOW CLOSED” | Montserrat College of Art 301 Gallery | October 4-29 | John Osorio-Buck of Cambridge constructs curious outposts that seem like contemporary survivalist versions of Thoreau’s Walden shack. Here he assembles a cord of firewood, chain-link fencing, instant noodles, and a porta-potty. With these raw materials, he ponders living on the edge — as well as the end-of-the-19th-century idea that Americans had pushed so far into the West that the frontier — that defining element of our national psyche — was extinct. | 301 Cabot Street, Beverly | Free | 978.921.4242 x 3 or montserrat.edu/galleries