Is Contemporary Art Valid? My Trip to the MFA

By Anvitha Sathya

As a Boston college student, one of the most interesting things you can do in the city is to take a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. For BU students, admission is free, and with new and changing special exhibits, it’s something that holds wonder every time that you go.

I love going to museums. As a New Jersey native, I spent a lot of time going to local exhibits and all of the big exhibits in New York, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. This weekend, I finally had a chance to visit the MFA in Boston and it was an experience that was extremely rewarding.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from my trip:


  1. 1. Untitled #468 (2015) by Hellen van Meene

    I love this photo because it creates a twist on a classic fairytale. Instead of portraying the girls as the Disney version of Snow White, van Meene follows the Grimms’ fairytale of Snow White and Rose-Red and weaves the two together into one. I love the eerie disposition of the two girls and the idea that two different things can look like one.

  2. 2. Composition: Standing Figure (1935) by Jean Hélion  

    Honestly, I just love how this painting looks. The artist describes this as a group of standing figures that resemble a family, but I like how these varied colored blocks had some relationship to one another and felt connected through the shadows. I kind of see a parrot in this image, almost as if something living exists in something inanimate.

  3. 3. Untitled (2019) by Katharina Grosse

    Another untitled piece! I couldn’t even capture the largeness of this entire piece as it took up two sides of a wall. I have always been a big fan of color and seeing all of these different streaks almost made me feel overwhelmed. This painting took up so much space that my entire vision was filled by it and made me feel so small. I love how this piece felt like it was bigger than me.

  4. 4. Self-Portrait (1948) by Hyman Bloom

    I love the rawness of how this was painted. The body almost seems deformed, but the color makes it alive and full of light. As a future doctor, I love this perception of beauty in non-living things and how things can be beautiful even after they are decomposed. This special exhibit is definitely something to see.

  5. 5. Dots Infinity NOWH (2004) by Yayoi Kusama

    This was a painting that immediately stood out to me. I love both the symmetry in the shape and in the color of the dots and the randomness of the location of them as well. It seems as if one is trying to find some order in an infinitely scattered place. I love this because it simply holds an aesthetic beauty in its attempt at perfection. 

  6. 6. As a bonus, here’s a tree we saw on Bay State Road that reminded us of that Dots Infinity NOWH painting.  

    Art really is everywhere!


As you can see, most of my favorite pieces fall into the category of contemporary art. While my friends preferred classic art styles such as impressionism, I preferred to look at pieces that could be more abstract or current. There is something unique about pieces that change meaning depending on the viewer or have meaning that may not be clear at first glance. In fact, sometimes art doesn’t even need to have any meaning at all.

Art can be art simply because it exists and invokes feeling. It is subjective in the sense that it doesn’t need to mean the same thing to everyone, but that does not take away its validity as art.


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