Art and Politics Fall Course at the Clark Begins September 11

For Immediate Release

August 21, 2008

Through the centuries artists have engaged with, reflected upon, and sometimes influenced the world of politics. Michael Cassin, director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Center for Education in the Visual Arts, will present the fall course, “The Art of Politics,” at 5:30 pm, on September 11, October 9, November 13, and December 11. Registration is not required but can be made by calling 413-458-0489. Cost is $6 per class ($4 for members) or $22 for the series ($15 for members).

On September 11, the first lecture will focus on the art of the political portrait. Art and politics have been intimately connected since the earliest times. Ancient rulers knew that having their likenesses stamped on coins was a very effective way of reminding the populace who held the reins of power. Throughout European history, portraits of the rich and powerful were understood to have a valuable role to play in enhancing the status of the individuals portrayed. When George Washington became the first president of the United States, Gilbert Stuart and others were aware of the need for a variety of “status” portraits of Washington himself and the other Founding Fathers. And the significance of portraiture continued to be recognized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when National Portrait Galleries were founded on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cassin will look at the use of narrative painting as a propaganda tool on October 9, the rise of the political caricature on November 13, and art and politics in the twentieth century on December 11.

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


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