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A 'lightweight' ICA?

Posted by Sebastian Smee  February 1, 2011 09:17 AM

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My two bob's worth: the Institute of Contemporary Art was criticized in the current issue of Boston Magazine (see Geoff Edgers's post below). Fair enough. I've directed my own share of criticisms at the museum over the last three years. But it's crazy to say it hasn't been a success.

And not just by the measure of attendances, which have been strong. Since I arrived in Boston in 2008, the ICA has mounted a series of superb exhibitions, starting with Anish Kapoor and moving on through Tara Donovan, Charles LeDray, and Mark Bradford. When the shows have had shortcomings, they've nonetheless been serious, provocative, bold - one thinks of the decision to give Shepard Fairey his first ever museum retrospective, and of smart, engaging shows by Roni Horn, Damien Ortega, and Dr Lakra. They have not, on the whole, been "lightweight."

All this has helped the ICA, in its new waterfront home, carve out a strong national reputation.

That they have accomplished so much (and I haven't even touched on the music and dance programming) in such a tough financial environment says much for the leadership of Jill Medvedow and for her team.

The lack of intelligent development around the ICA has been a problem, sure. But is that really their fault?

Anyway, perhaps I am insufficiently civic-minded, but I don't really care about that, or the shop, or even the café (both of which seem fine to me, by the way). I care about the art. And the ICA has been a good place to go for art.

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Culture Desk is a blog that serves to highlight both local and national stories of interest in the worlds of art, music, movies, TV, theater and more. Most items are written by writers and editors from The Boston Globe arts and culture staff.

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