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The Clark Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2005 -2006

For Immediate Release

January 01, 2005

Anniversary Marks 50 Years of Collections Growth, Landmark Exhibitions, Influential Research and Scholarship, and Unparalleled "Art in Nature" Experience

Anniversary Highlights Include:

  • Galleries Open for 50 Straight Hours
  • Jacques-Louis David: First Exhibition on Post-Revolutionary Years
  • First Exhibition Exploring the Collecting of Sterling and Stephen Clark
  • The Establishment of the Clark Prize for Arts Writing
  • First National Tour of Impressionist Masterpieces from
  • the Clark Collection
  • 50 Favorite Works of Art Selected by the Community

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (October 29, 2004) - Beginning in May 2005, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a year-long program of special exhibitions and initiatives, including the establishment of a new prize for arts writing and the first national tour of masterpieces from its permanent collection. The program also encompasses several special exhibitions including Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile, the first exhibition to examine the artist's post-Revolutionary years, and The Clark Brothers Collect Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, which will explore the collecting history of Sterling Clark and his brother Stephen, bringing together works from their acclaimed collections for the first time. Celebrations and programs are planned for area residents throughout the 18-month festivities, including opening the galleries for 50 straight hours in June and the public's selection of 50 favorite works of art.

"The Clark looks forward to our community helping us celebrate this exciting moment as we reflect on our remarkable 50 years and anticipate continued success, new initiatives, and growth in the future," said Michael Conforti, director of The Clark.

The Clark will be open around the clock from 6 p.m. on Friday, June 3, through 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 5. A variety of programs are in the works for the 50 hours, ranging from children's events to late-night programs for college students to a dessert dance celebrating the opening of the David exhibition.

"We plan to have different programs of all kinds, for all people, and at all hours," said Conforti. "It will be a great celebration to kick-off our anniversary year."

Set amidst 140 picturesque acres in the Berkshire Hills, the Clark is one of the few major art museums in the United States that also serve as a leading international center for research and scholarship. Since its founding in 1955 by philanthropists and collectors Sterling and Francine Clark, the institution has built upon the vision of its founders through the strategic growth of its renowned collections; the creation of landmark exhibitions that shed new light on unexplored areas of art history; and the development of acclaimed research and academic programs including fellowships, conferences, symposia, and one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. The Clark - in conjunction with Williams College - also runs one of the nation's foremost master's degree programs in art history, which has played a seminal role in the development of museum and arts professionals across the country.

The institution maintains the legacy of the unparalleled Clark experience - intimate encounters with spectacular works of art in a dramatic natural setting - through the responsible stewardship of its extensive grounds and the sensitively scaled expansion of its facilities. This commitment will be further advanced through its upcoming expansion by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando and landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand Associates.

"During the past 50 years, the Clark has stayed true to the mission of its founders of creating an institution of international impact, national consciousness, and regional responsibility," said Clark director Michael Conforti. "This milestone anniversary is a time for us to celebrate the successes of the past fifty years while looking toward our future growth and evolution. The Clark is renowned as a destination for the contemplative study and appreciation of art, and this is an experience we will seek to enhance in the coming years. In addition, through new initiatives launched as part of this anniversary celebration, the Clark signals our continued commitment to strengthening the public understanding of art while advancing new ideas and scholarship."

The Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing

The Clark is establishing a new prize for arts writing that extends its dual mission of enhancing public appreciation of art while advancing scholarship.

"The Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing" will be awarded annually, and the first recipient will be announced in spring 2006. The award has been conceived to recognize those writers whose work stimulates understanding of the world of visual art in a way that is grounded in scholarship yet appealing to broad audiences. It will also serve to celebrate excellence in arts writing that conveys complex ideas in a manner that is informed, insightful, and accessible.

In creating this award, the Clark will raise awareness of the importance of writing that bridges scholarly and popular interest in the arts and seeks to encourage support for this type of writing among publishers, editors, and the public. The Clark Prize is accompanied by a $10,000 honorarium and an award designed by Tadao Ando.

Impressionist Masterpieces from the Clark Collection to Tour Nationally to Share Collection with Communities Across US

Collecting the Impressionists to Tour to Six Regional Art Museums

As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the first nationally touring exhibition of works from the Clark's collections will premiere at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in November 2005 and travel to four regional art museums across the country before concluding at the San Antonio Museum of Art. The exhibition expresses the Clark's commitment to making works from its collection available to communities in which local museums do not have significant Impressionist holdings.
Sharing works drawn from its collections advances the Clark's mission to build public interest in the arts. To further that goal, the exhibition is being provided to the museums free of the traditional participation fee that typically offsets the costs of organizing and managing touring exhibitions. In selecting the six tour museums, the Clark specifically focused on smaller museums as well as those that serve large populations. More than 60 small to mid-size institutions were invited to participate in the tour, and the Clark received requests from 23 to present the exhibition.

Collecting the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will be the first nationally touring exhibition of works from the Clark's collections and will feature 12 major paintings by Renoir, Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Manet, Sisley, and Morisot. Among the highlights of the exhibition is Renoir's Girl Crocheting, the first of 38 paintings by the artist that Sterling Clark acquired. Girl Crocheting has not been on view outside of Williamstown since 1946.

Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile - First Exhibition to Examine David's Post-Revolutionary Years

The first exhibition to explore the transformation of Jacques-Louis David's art following the French Revolution will be presented at the Clark from June 5 to September 5, 2005. Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile is also the first major American exhibition to focus exclusively on David's work even though David was the most celebrated painter of his era and the leader of the Neoclassicist movement, which influenced Western art for generations. Empire to Exile is being co-organized by the Clark and the J. Paul Getty Museum, where it will be presented from February to April, 2005.

Empire to Exile features 26 paintings and 28 drawings, of which eight paintings and 16 drawings have never been exhibited in this country. The exhibition traces the evolution of David's work from 1794, following the Reign of Terror, to his death in exile in 1825. It also examines the artist's admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte, for whom he served as court painter, and investigates his new approach to antiquity in historical compositions. The exhibition will look at David's experiments and innovations in portraiture and the influence of the Flemish School on his work.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Musée National des Châteaux de Malmaison), one of the most widely recognized works of Western art, which has not been on display in the U.S. since 1828, if at all (records are inconclusive). It will also feature The Emperor Napoleon in his Study at the Tuileries (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) and Cupid and Psyche (Cleveland Museum of Art). Empire to Exile will also reunite the two famous portraits of Comte Henri-Amedée de Turenne (one from the Clark and the other from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen) for the first time since they were both still in the collection of the Comte's family, 100 years ago.

Sterling and Stephen Clark's Collections United for First Time

The Clark Brothers Collect Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso
To Tour to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The first exhibition to bring together masterpieces from the remarkable collections of the Clark brothers, Sterling and Stephen, will premiere at the Clark in the summer of 2006 and subsequently travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sterling Clark's collection, which forms the foundation of the Clark, is distinguished by its French Impressionist masterpieces, which include an outstanding representation of works by Renoir. It also encompasses American paintings, among them works by Homer, Sargent, and Cassatt, as well as works by such Academy artists as Bouguereau and Alma-Tadema. Stephen Clark's collection, parts of which were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (of which he was a founding trustee and board chair), and Yale University Art Gallery, extended further into the 20th century. It included masterpieces by such artists as van Gogh, Seurat, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso.

Heirs to the Singer Sewing fortune of their grandfather, Edward Clark, Sterling and Stephen Clark were raised in Cooperstown, N.Y. They both inherited their father's interest in collecting art. They began collecting together and often wrote to one another about their purchases, but after a family rift in 1923, the brothers stopped speaking. However, they remained aware of each other's art collecting and the two collections share many common interests, among them Renoir, Homer, and Remington.

This examination of the collections of the two brothers will be the first exhibition to bring to light the collecting of Stephen. Sterling is the better-known collector because of the museum and research institute he founded in Williamstown. Stephen, too, helped to establish a number of important museums with research, academic, and professional training programs in Cooperstown. These include the New York State Historical Association, The Farmer's Museum, and Fenimore Art Museum, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Among the American paintings featured in the The Clark Brothers Collect will be Homer's Undertow and Sargent's Fumée d'Ambergris, both owned by Sterling, and Eakins's Dr. Agnew (Yale University Art Gallery) and Hopper's House by the Railroad (Museum of Modern Art) from Stephen's collection. European art from Sterling's collection will include Monet's Cliffs at Etretat and Degas' The Dancing Lesson. French paintings collected by Stephen will include van Gogh's The Night Café (Yale University Art Gallery), Cézanne's The Card Players (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and masterpieces by Matisse, Seurat, and Picasso.

50 Favorites

People of all ages and walks of life will have an opportunity to tell the Clark about their favorite work of art and what it means to them. The "50 Favorites" selected will be highlighted through special labels on 50 works of art in the Clark collection, debuting on the Clark's official "birthday," May 17, 2005. The highlighted works, chosen with the public's assistance, will include not only works from the original collection of Sterling and Francine Clark but also acquisitions made over the past 50 years. Selected essays from the public will be used in the gallery labels and may be featured in special gallery talks and other materials throughout the anniversary year. Anyone may participate in the program. Details on how to enter will be announced soon.

"We know that many members of our community have very personal relationships with the works of art in the Clark," said Conforti. "When we decided to highlight 50 great things, we thought it would be intriguing to hear what people have to say about the collection, rather than have only the curators' take on everything."

Other Anniversary Exhibitions and Programming

The Clark will be presenting additional special exhibitions and programs that reflect the wide-ranging interests of the institutions and the audiences it serves.

Opening on May 17, 2005, will be The Clark Room, which will feature never-before-seen photographs and archival material about the Clark family and the growth of the institute over the past 50 years.
In addition, the Clark will be publishing the first comprehensive catalogue of its outstanding collection of European paintings with leading European art scholar Richard Kendall.

Other Exhibitions

In addition to the exhibitions noted above, the Clark will continue its program of year-round special exhibitions. These will include:

* As part of the Berkshire-wide cultural collaboration "American Traditions," the Clark will present a selection of American folk art from the Fenimore House Museum, Cooperstown from July to September 2005.

* An exhibition highlighting the Clark's extensive holdings by Winslow Homer, including oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, woodcuts, and photography, will be on view in fall 2005.

* Approximately 70 drawings and 10 paintings by Barbizon artist Claude Lorrain will be showcased in spring 2006.

Research and Academic Program

The anniversary celebration will examine the growth and ongoing impact of the Clark's Research and Academic Program, encompassing its Fellows Program, 31-year collaboration with Williams College, 27 years of support of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, which is located on the Clark campus, and the development of one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. As part of the anniversary celebration, the Clark will mount a series of workshops, symposia, and conferences.

Throughout the 50th anniversary year, the Clark will also be mounting special programs for the residents of the Berkshires and the region. This will include a series of events that extend the celebration across the entire Clark campus.

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