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Japanese Art’s Influence on American Artists Explored During September 7 Lecture at the Clark

For Immediate Release

August 13, 2008

David Park Curry, senior curator of decorative arts, American painting, and sculpture at the Baltimore Museum of Art, will present the lecture “In Praise of Shadows” on Sunday, September 7, 3 pm, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Curry will explore the reception of Japanese art in the West and how late nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American painters, including many of the artists featured in the Clark’s current exhibition Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly, found inspiration in Japanese art and Japanese approaches to appreciating beauty. Admission to the lecture is free.

In 1933, novelist Jun'ichiro Tanizaki published In'ei Raisan (In Praise of Shadows), exploring for Western readers the significance of light and darkness in traditional Japanese culture. Tanizaki described an approach to enjoying art displayed in soft light, taking extraordinary pleasure in the beauty of shadowy recesses and quiet contrasts. Finding resonance between the exquisite surfaces of Japanese objects and the surfaces created by some American painters, Curry will draw attention to the subtle and subdued shadows of Japanese art that survive in numerous turn-of-the-century American canvases.

In addition to his position at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Curry has served as curator at the Freer Gallery of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Denver Art Museum. He has written extensively on Whistler and other leading American artists. His publications include American Dreams: Paintings and Decorative Arts from the Warner Collection; Fabergé: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915; Childe Hassam: An Island Garden Revisited; Winslow Homer: The Croquet Game; and most recently, James McNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces.

Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly is the first exhibition to explore “painting softly,” a distinctive and unexamined approach to painting exemplified in works by James McNeill Whistler and George Inness. Like Breath on Glass brings together forty paintings by leading American artists working around 1900, including Whistler, Inness, William Merritt Chase, John Twachtman, Eduard Steichen, and others, to examine this style of painting through which artists obscured their brush strokes. The exhibition is on view through October 19.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open daily in July and August from 10 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays September through June). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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