Clark Conference to Explore "The Lure Of The Object"

For Immediate Release

February 04, 2004

"The Lure of the Object" is the topic of the 2004 Clark Conference at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Friday, April 30-Saturday, May 1.  The conference will bring together historians, critics, artists, curators, and conservators to examine the role of  "the object" in art history during the 21st century.  Speakers will explore the vital difference that the encounter with objects has made to the conception and practice of art history. Registration is $25 per day ($15 for members, $5 for students). For more information or to register, contact the Clark's Research and Academic Program at 413-458-2303, extension 260, or

The conference will begin at 9:15 a.m. on April 30, with an introduction by Stephen Melville, professor of the history of art at Ohio State University and organizer of this year's conference. Melville was in residence at the Institute as Clark Fellow in the fall of 2003. 

The Friday morning session, entitled "Commerce and Context," will be presented from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., beginning with a discussion on "The Lure of Leonardo: Two Belle Ferronieres in the 1920s" by John Brewer.  Brewer is Eli and Edye Broad Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of history and literature at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Emily Apter, professor of French at New York University, will give the talk, "The Private Property of the Subject."  Mark Meadow, associate professor of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will discuss "Samuel Quiccheberg, the Wunderkammer, and the Copious Object."  Edward J. Sullivan's topic, "Naturalezas Mexicanas: Objects as Cultural Signifiers in Mexican Art, c. 1750-1850," will conclude the morning session.  Sullivan is professor of fine arts at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

The afternoon session, "After the Object," from 2 to 5 p.m., will begin with "Material as Language in Contemporary Art" by Christian Scheidemann, senior conservator at Contemporary Conservation Ltd. in New York City.  Lynne Cook, curator at the Dia Art Foundation in New York, will follow with her lecture, "(To Matter): Pace the Material and Immaterial in Lawrence Weiner's Early Work."  George Baker, assistant professor of art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, will bring the first day of the conference to a close with his lecture, "Photography's Expanded Field."

Malcolm Baker, professor of art history at the University of Southern California, will lead off Saturday's session, "Objectives," with his talk "Object Histories and the Materiality of the Sculptural Object" at 9:30 a.m. Karen Lang, assistant professor at the University of Southern California, will speak on "Encountering the Object."  Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, professor of the history of art at Harvard University, will discuss "The Object as Subject." 

The topic for Saturday afternoon's session is "Lost and Found." It will begin at 2 p.m. with "The Surrealist Situation of the Photographed Object" by Margaret Iversen, professor of the history of art at the University of Essex, England.  Helen Molesworth will then conclude the lecture program with her talk "Part Object/Part Sculpture."  Molesworth is curator at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University.

From 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Clark Fellows Martha Buskirk and Marcia Pointon will respond to and lead a discussion of the issues raised at the conference.  Buskirk is associate professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, Massachusetts. Pointon is professor emerita at the University of Manchester, England.

The proceedings of "The Lure of the Object" will be published by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and Yale University Press as part of the ongoing series, Clark Studies in the Visual Arts. Previous titles in the series include: Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Studies (Michael Ann Holly and Keith Moxey, editors); The Art Historian (Michael F. Zimmermann, editor) and Anthropologies of Art (Mariët Westermann, editor).

The Clark

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires.

The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. Its Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world.


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