EXHIBITION CURATOR JAY A. CLARKE PRESENTS OPENING LECTURES FOR ‘WHISTLER’S MOTHER: GREY, BLACK, AND WHITE’ AT CLARK ART INSTITUTE

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2015
 
Williamstown, MA—Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Jay A. Clarke presents two opening lectures for the Clark Art Institute’s exhibition Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White on Sunday, July 5 at 11 am and 3 pm. The free lectures will be held in Hunter Studio at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill on the Clark’s campus.
 
Clarke traces the historic path of James McNeill Whistler’s iconic painting Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother), familiarly known as Whistler’s Mother, from Whistler’s London studio in 1871 to its purchase by the French government in 1891. She touches upon Whistler's financial and legal troubles, as well as his relationship to his mother, before exploring the event that sealed the painting’s fame: its tour in the United States in the 1930s during the Great Depression. While the painting received mixed reviews when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1872—with many critics puzzled by its unconventional pose, spare composition, and nearly monochromatic palette—a nationwide tour of the painting in America more than fifty years later incited a wave of patriotic pride and nostalgia.
 
Clarke also examines some of the endless stream of parodies derived from the painting, from Mad magazine covers to Mr. Bean, and poses the question of whether these parodies have served to further the iconic status of the work or have turned it into a parody of itself.
 
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1, considered by many to be the most important American painting not held on American soil, serves as the centerpiece of an exhibition featuring a selection of Whistler’s prints and drawings, Japanese woodblock prints that inspired the artist, and ephemera that explore the image’s role in popular culture. The exhibition is on view at the Clark July 4 through September 27.
 
Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White is presented in collaboration with the Colby College Museum of Art and the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies. The exhibition is generously supported by a grant from The Lunder Foundation and by Katherine and Frank Martucci.
 
ABOUT THE CLARK
 
The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
 
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm; open daily in July and August. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.
 
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