“When in Rome” Lecture Explores How Artists Captured the Architectural and Societal Shifts of the Industrial Age

For Immediate Release

October 20, 2009

Examine Rome through its different historic periods at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The “When in Rome” series of lectures this fall led by Clark staff is a complement to the fall exhibition Steps off the Beaten Path: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Rome and Its Environs. Registration is not required but can be made by calling 413-458-0489. Cost is $8 per class ($5 for members and free of charge for college students). Lectures are held on Thursdays at 5:30 pm.

The series continues on October 29 with Jay Clarke, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, who will focus on “Rome: The Industrial Age.” Clarke will explore the complex period between 1850 and 1900 when Italy’s social and political realities changed drastically. She will consider how both Italian and French artists captured these architectural and societal shifts through paintings, prints, and photographs of the Eternal City.

While artists such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot strove to evoke an idyllic past with views of the Roman countryside, others, like the Italian photographer Vincenzo Carlo Domenico Baldassarre Simelli, featured in Steps off the Beaten Path, strove to capture the precarious state of Rome’s decaying ruins. Each was interested in preserving the past—both imagined and real—at the very moment when medieval sections of Paris were being destroyed to make way for wider boulevards. The fear of losing ancient Rome to the ravages of industry prompted artists to act in divergent ways to document and invent what they perceived as the Eternal City’s timelessness.

The remaining lectures in the series include “Rome: The Age of the Popes” on November 5 with assistant deputy director Tom Loughman, and “Rome: The Foreign Academies” on November 12 with Richard Rand, senior curator and curator of paintings and sculpture.

Technical innovations, artistic daring, and shifting socio-political circumstances led to a dramatic change in the photography of Rome in the late nineteenth century. Photographers of the Eternal City began to capture everyday scenes alongside ancient ruins, Baroque churches, and backstreets, all of which industrialization was rapidly transforming. Through the 100 images in Steps off the Beaten Path, viewers today can step into a Rome that was about to step out of the pre-industrial age. The exhibition is on view at the Clark through January 3, 2010.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (open daily in July and August). 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 clarkart.edu.


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