Smoke & Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art

Two white-gloved hands floating in space with fire erupting from the fingers.

Sarah Charlesworth, "Trial by Fire," 1992-93, Cibachrome with lacquered wood frame. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery

Members: FREE
Adults: $16.00
Seniors (ages 65+): $12.00
Groups: $10.00
High School Students (under 18): FREE
Children (under 15): FREE

Ask about enrolling in our College Partner Program to receive FREE adult General Admission

Free, daily docent tours are available


Wed - Fri - Sat - Sun: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Thu: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm

Mon - Tue: Closed


The exhibition’s title refers both to performative magic and to the “magical thinking” in today’s culture rife with disinformation, conspiracy theories, and “alternative facts.” In essence, the theme of the show is lying, whether it’s stage magic where the audience is in on the deception or hoaxes perpetrated for financial or political gain. The show includes artists who are inspired by stage magic or creators of deep fakes that, when exposed, reveal a greater truth.

The inspiration for the exhibition is the life and career of the late Amazing Randi, a Florida resident and legendary stage magician who was a relentless debunker of charlatans.  Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), an artist who has exhibited at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, was Randi’s lifelong partner. He began his career as a performance artist in the 1980s when the two collaborated on an international project exposing spirit channelers.

This exhibition is especially timely. There are parallels between our day and the early 20th century with its deadly flu and world war that spawned an epidemic of fake mediums as well as the golden age of stage magic. The trauma of our own pandemic, climate disasters, and rampant violence have seen an explosive increase in supernatural characters in popular culture as well as dangerous hoaxes that have proved difficult to discredit.

Curated by Senior Curator Kathleen Goncharov


A Night of Magic at the Museum
Title wall for Smoke and Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art exhibition with photographs in oval frames in background and series of paintings at right of text.

Title wall for "Smoke and Mirrors: Magical Thinking in Contemporary Art."

Portrait of magician Ricky Jay made up of playing cards at left, sculptures of rabbits being pulled out of hats at center, and series of oval photographs by Sarah Charlesworth at right.

West gallery of "Smoke and Mirrors."

Four monitors with videos of psychics; still images and projected video of magic tricks.

East gallery of "Smoke and Mirrors."

View of Education Gallery featuring the Yes Men artwork wall graphics and bodysuit for "SurvivaBall."

View into Education Gallery for "Smoke and Mirrors."

Visit the Museum
501 Plaza Real
Boca Raton FL, 33432

Exhibition Sponsors

Additional Sponsor Text

This exhibition has been made possible by the Museum's Leadership Donors.

Related News

Fri, Nov 17 2023 - In the News: Sun Sentinel

Call them conspiracy theories, alternative facts or disinformation, but the theme of the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s…

Fri, Nov 10 2023 - In the News: WLRN South Florida

Ahead of Art Basel overtaking South Florida next month, a new multi-sensory art exhibition will explore the…

Wed, Oct 25 2023 - In the News: Ninu Nina

The Boca Raton Museum of Art will present the world premiere of the Teiger Award-winning exhibition Smoke and…

Fri, Oct 13 2023 - In the News: New York Style Guide

Tony Oursler, Urs Fischer, Alfredo Jaar, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Christian Jankowski, Jane Hammond, Glenn Kaino, Sarah…

Thu, Sep 28 2023 - In the News: Ocula Magazine

'The correlation between magic and art making has always loomed large, and this exhibition takes this idea one step…