For years, civic and cultural eminentoes have tried to get people to refer to Huntington Avenue as “Avenue of the Arts.” Good luck with that! It’s been about as successful as getting New Yorkers to call Sixth Avenue “Avenue of the Americas.” For the next six weeks, though, Huntington Avenue qualifies as “Avenue of the Posters.” “Art in the Street: European Posters” runs through July 21 at the Museum of Fine Arts, and “Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012” runs at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Paine Gallery through March 2. The gallery, with its two-story height, extended balcony, plaster reliefs, and Palladian windows, is one of the city’s most pleasing exhibition spaces.
The two shows could hardly differ more. “Art in the Street” is elegant, historical, and has enormous aesthetic appeal. “Graphic Advocacy” is sprawling, contemporary, and replete with the excitement that comes of passionate commitment. It includes 122 examples of polemical posters by artists from 32 countries. (An interesting aspect of the show is the absence of distinct national styles. We are all now citizens of the Web, inhabitants of a truly global popular culture.)