The Clark Appoints Kathleen Morris Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Marc Simpson Curator of American Art

For Immediate Release

March 14, 2005

Kathleen Morris and Marc Simpson have been appointed to positions overseeing exhibitions and American art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.  Morris, the Clark's new director of collections and exhibitions and curator of decorative arts, comes from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  The new curator of American art, Marc Simpson, an expert in American art, is known for the Clark's popular Sargent show of 1997.  Simpson is associate director of the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, co-sponsored with the Clark. 

"The Clark, its collections, programs, and visitors, will benefit from Morris's background in European art and Simpson's specialization in American art," said Clark director Michael Conforti.  "We welcome them aboard and look forward to their positive contributions to our institution."

Prior to joining the Clark staff, Morris was associate director for exhibitions and collections management and curator of European sculpture, decorative arts, and prints at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  She received her Ph.D. in Art History from The University of Virginia in 2005. Her dissertation dealt with contemporary sources on the life and art of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In 2004, she was project co-curator with VMFA director Michael Brand on Van Gogh and Gauguin: An Artistic Dialogue in the South of France at the VMFA. Morris contributed several catalogue entries to Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!: The Bruyas Collection from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, which was on view at the Clark last summer.

"I'm very excited to be joining the Clark staff at such an exciting moment in the institution's history.  Arriving at the advent of a 50th anniversary celebration provides me with a Janus-like orientation: I can look over the shoulders of my colleagues who are working to summarize the history of the Clark up to now (we'll open a special exhibition dedicated to this in a few short months), and at the same time I can look into the future as the Clark plans for expansion and growth," commented Morris. 

As administrative head of the exhibitions program, she is working with her colleagues on a number of exhibition projects. The Clark presents engaging special exhibitions in partnership with national and international institutions, such as the upcoming Jacques Louis David: Empire to Exile and next summer's The Clark Brothers Collect Renior, Van Gogh, Picasso. As curator of decorative arts, Morris is considering the potential for special projects and new displays of the Clark's distinctive collection of silver (both American and British), American furniture, and Continental and English porcelain.

Simpson is associate director and lecturer in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Clark audiences know him for his popular 1997 exhibition Uncanny Spectacle: The Public Career of the Young John Singer Sargent. Simpson received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1993. His particular area of interest is American art from 1860 to 1930.  Recently published essays focus on the work of James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer.

"I look forward to working with this great collection of American art, especially the rich holdings of works by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent," said Simpson of his position at the Clark.

One of his first projects, scheduled to be part of the Clark's 50th anniversary celebrations, is to bring as many of the Homer works as possible before the public next fall and winter. He and graduate student Susannah Maurer, along with others on the Clark staff, are planning a distinctive installation of the collection's nearly 250 works by the artist. Other, longer-range exhibition and re-installation projects are at the talking stage.

"With so much going on at the Clark, this is a very exciting place to be. It will be challenging of course, especially balancing continuing responsibilities to Williams College and the Graduate Program in the History of Art with these new projects. But great colleagues and co-workers at both institutions make it almost conceivable; I hope that, together, we'll be able to make a real contribution to the institution and its larger community," he said.

Morris and Simpson are filling positions previously held by Brian T. Allen, now director of the Addison Gallery of American Art, in Andover, MA.

The Clark's permanent collection is extraordinarily rich in 19th-century French art, with more than 30 paintings by Renoir and works by Monet, Degas, and Pissarro.  The collection includes not only Impressionist paintings but also exceptional European and Old Master paintings.  An important group of American paintings includes works by Sargent, Homer, Cassatt, and Remington.  Other highlights include sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, as well as English silver.

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