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Then again, Picasso was actually the Picasso of Henry Ford's day, so the title of this news item is misleading and wrong. Perhaps a decent adjustment would be to say that Lee Iacocca was the Andy Warhol of his time. Then again, that's just wrong too.

According to a recent Boston Globe article, MFA director Malcolm Rogers has a tough time distinguishing between artists and capitalists; at least when it comes to cars. "I can promise on some of the cars, people will look at every rivet, every nut, every dashboard. These are beautiful," says Rogers of the upcoming show "Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collections" (March 9 - July 30, 2005).

Perhaps predicting this article, and many others like it, Rogers also quips: "I'm hoping it will bring and promote a lively discussion about 'Is this art?'As you know, Boston takes these things very, very seriously."

Indeed we should take these things seriously, as it is hardly funny to watch our world-class Museum pimp itself out as a glorified auto rally to make money. Should we not expect our Museum to feature artworks of the highest quality in its main gallery, where revered artists such as Picasso and Gauguin have shown recently? Are we not correct in wondering where the MFA's priorities lie when show after show after show cater to the almighty dollar at the expense of creativity, discourse and, dare it be said, dignity?

Just imagine scores of school-groups passing through the MFA, ogling at the fine craftsmanship of Lauren's collection of penis-extenders, and see the glazed look in their eyes. If a fine car is equal to Museum-quality art; if a fashion designer's toy collection warrants the same attention as Picasso and Sargent and Lewitt, perhaps there is no need to look past the driveway for culture, for history and for inspiration. That, indeed, is the travesty of a show such as this: our greatest institution for maintaining and preserving art has declared that there is no need to make a distinction when money is involved.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
"Pretty Big Things" - The Boston Globe

"Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collections" is on view March 6 - July 3, 2005 at the MFA.

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