Boston Ten Collective
Collection, Danforth Museum of Art

March 4, 2012 - May 20, 2012

Members' Preview Reception Saturday, March 3, 6pm - 8pm

The Danforth is pleased to present Boston Ten and Beyond: Collaborations, an exhibition of over 30 collaborative pieces selected from work recently acquired by the Museum.  This past January twenty-four individual artists donated a total of 113 works, created together as part of a group project.  This donation represents the single largest collection of work gifted to the Museum to date—and perhaps the most unique.

Boston Ten and Beyond: Collaborations opens to the public on Sunday, March 4. A Member’s Preview will take place on March 3,
from 6 pm – 8 pm.

About the Exhibit

This show represents collaboration between 24 artists, each working in their own way to create works that blend individual styles.  Some walk the line between the real and surreal, some display interest in the graphic novel or pop realism, some embrace the painterly brushwork of neo-expressionism.  The resulting work is compelling and forceful—a sum of many creative parts.  Contributing artists include Miroslav Antic, Gerry Bergstein, Gail Boyajian, Morgan Bulkeley, Mark Cooper, Todd McKie, Ann Neely, Scott Prior and numerous others.

Collaboration began in 2006, following an opening for a show for a group calling themselves the Boston Ten at the Lascano Gallery in Great Barrington, MA.  Artist and curator Morgan Bulkeley described hosting an after show party at his house during which “A bunch of us sat on our front porch on Mount Washington drinking wine and beer, reveling in seeing each other after all these years. Most of us had studios together in Boston in the 70's and 80's and this reunion reignited our collective creativity. Mark Cooper had brought paper and paints which we started working on and passing around the crowd for additions. We all agreed; that day was close to what heaven must be like.”  

This magical afternoon was reminiscent of those enjoyed by Surrealist poets in 1920’s Paris when “exquisite corpse” parlor games were all the rage.  When Bulkeley experienced a medical condition that interrupted his usual method of working, he again called upon the process to connect with friends—accessing the creative unconscious of a group that had grown beyond its original circle. 
In the summer of 2007 my glaucoma made it impossible to work on large paintings, but I could see close up and I started doing some 7"x10" beginnings, which I handed, or sent, to the Boston Ten group and other friends. The first results were a splendid surprise; and several of those involved began new pieces to send around the group. The project had such a life of its own that I would run to the mailbox to see if anything had arrived.”

A selection of these drawings was shown in 2008 at the Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield, MA, and work on the project continued through January, 2012 when the group decided to gift the entire collection to the Danforth Museum.  The Museum is now organizing a future exhibition of all drawings, alongside work by participating artists.  An exhibition catalog to archive the collection is planned. 



About Exquisite Corpse

Surrealist poets in 1920’s Paris created their own variation of 19th century parlor games in order to explore a central tenant of Surrealism, a belief in the power of the subconscious.  The name “exquisite corpse” derives from Breton’s initial experiment, which resulted in the poetic phrase "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," or "The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine."  

Art critic Nicolas Calas observed that these poetic fragments reveal the "unconscious reality in the personality of the group" and fulfill Lautréamont’s injunction that “poetry must be made by all and not just one.”  Artist Max Ernst displayed a more measured response when he called the process evidence of "mental contagion."  However, once free of conscious control, Surrealist artists, writers and musicians found themselves able to explore accidental juxtapositions that were puzzling, comic and surprisingly beautiful.  Artists participating in the Boston Ten project were engaging in a practice that embraced both Modernist tradition, as well as a 1960’s generational desire to work in a collaborative way.    




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