Less Is Still a Bore: New Exhibition Explores Maximalist Art and Design

The show, on view from June 26 through September 22 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, features a cross-disciplinary and intergenerational selection of art forms and styles.
Maximalist art design exhibition ICA Boston

Kehinde Wiley’s The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte (2014) features two Haitian women whose bodies merge with a vegetal backdrop, mimicking Jacques-Louis David’s 1821 painting. Courtesy Robert Wedemeyer Photograhy/Courtesy the artist


In the seminal text Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), Robert Venturi departed from the then-dominant Modernist agenda, arguing for an architecture that embraces pastiche, pluralism, and the vernacular. More than 50 years later, the values encapsulated in Venturi’s cheeky adage “Less is a bore” serve as the basis of a name-sake exhibition of art, craft, and ornamentation at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design features a cross-disciplinary and intergenerational selection of art forms and styles that, until recently, were largely excluded from the established fields of fine art, architecture, and design. Exhibiting over 60 works by more than 40 artists from 1969 onward, Less Is a Bore takes as its primary point of departure the New York–based Pattern and Decoration movement, a style that emerged in the mid-1970s in opposition to the white- and male-centric hegemony underpinning much conceptual and minimalist art. Curator Jenelle Porter describes the exhibition’s strategic deployment of visual excess and recontextualization as a “generative mess,” a means of complicating canonical narratives and challenging still-prevailing standards of beauty and taste.

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Categories: Arts + Culture, Design