What Boston Loves

In an attempt to manipulate the power of the Internet, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston used crowdsourcing to select pieces for its ongoing exhibition, Boston Loves Impressionism. During the month of January, the MFA held an online vote every week, garnering up to 41,000 votes.

This exhibition explores the predominating artistic taste of Bostonians.   It neither focuses on the Impressionist movement nor on the individual artists, but rather highlights the connection Boston feels towards each piece.

The top three selected works are undeniable favorites. Van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers received the most votes, surpassing Claude Monet’s Water Lilies by at least 1,000 total votes. The only sculpture in the contest, Edgar Degas’s Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, managed to come in third.

Vincent van Gogh, Houses at Auvers, 1890. Oil on canvas, 75.6 x 61.9 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Vincent van Gogh, Houses at Auvers, 1890.
Oil on canvas, 75.6 x 61.9 cm.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

While Van Gogh outdid the rest in terms of votes, Monet outdid him in quantity, as he painted thirteen of the thirty featured works. Van Gogh, on the other hand, is only represented by two works, Houses at Auvers and Ravine.

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancer with Arms Crossed, c. 1872. Oil on canvas, 61.3 x 50.5 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancer with Arms Crossed, c. 1872.
Oil on canvas, 61.3 x 50.5 cm.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Among the likes of Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, and Van Gogh is Mary Cassatt, the only American and the only woman featured in the exhibition. Even during her time, Cassatt proved her ability against the other Impressionists, and was even invited to exhibit with the group, becoming one of three women and the only American to do so.

Mary Cassatt, In the Loge, 1878. Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 66 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Mary Cassatt, In the Loge, 1878.
Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 66 cm.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Clearly, Boston has an infatuation with French Impressionist painters, but it also has a deep respect for Mary Cassatt, a true artist regardless of gender or nationality.

Visit the Museum of Fine Arts Boston to see its ongoing exhibition Boston Loves Impressionism and explore the implementation of crowdsourcing in curating. If you feel like enjoying the works of the champion Monet, you can purchase a copy of Parkstone International’s latest release Art Gallery, a collection of ten books featuring Impressionist Van Gogh, Renoir, and Monet.

-D.R.

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