‘Less is a Bore’: ICA Boston takes Maximalism to the max

“Maximalism” is having a moment. But what does it really mean? In fashion and design circles, it is thrown around almost as frequently and hollowly as all variations of “curator”, the curator Jenelle Porter joked at the press preview for Less is a Bore: Maximalist Art and Design, her show at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston (until 22 September).

The exhibition’s starting point rewards knowledge of a battle of 20th century architectural maxims that began with Mies van der Rohe adopting “Less is More” as his mantra in 1947 to describe a rigidly pared-down Minimalist vision. In 1963, Robert Venturi then wittily retorted, “Less is a bore”, praising fluid design that takes on qualities and needs of its locale rather than blindly obeying the inflexible principles of an intellectual movement.

Stepping into the first of four galleries devoted to the show and pausing in front of a large-scale Sol LeWitt line drawing from 1976, faithfully reproduced and installed by the ICA staff using the artist’s set of directions, I anticipated a summer fling bent on attracting crowds of Boston Seaport visitors who wanted busy, decorative backdrops for their live Instagram stories. Read More…

Image Credit: Nathalie du Pasquier, Untitled (around 1984), marker and collage. Courtesy of the artist

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