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Little Women, Little Men: Folk Art Portraits of Children from the Fenimore Art Museum

For Immediate Release

June 09, 2005

Little Women, Little Men: Folk Art Portraits of Children from the Fenimore Art Museum will open Monday, July 4 and run through Sunday, October 16 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The exhibition will feature 11 paintings and one piece of sculpture, all depicting children in the folk art tradition. The pieces, on loan from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY, were originally collected by Stephen C. Clark, brother of Sterling Clark.

The most popular form of folk art, portraits were often commissioned by members of the growing middle class. The portraits, many of them in memoriam, include personal objects connected with each child’s identity. The children are shown with examples of material culture, including pony whips, pets, and favorite toy objects, and the pieces serve as a record of social history in the mid-1800s.

Acquired by Stephen Clark during the 1940s and 1950s, when folk art was a popular genre to collect, these pieces represent a wide range of folk artists in New England. Folk artists were most often itinerants, traveling from commission to commission, town-to-town, not trained in the traditional academic manner. Most of the works in this exhibition were created in New England, many from Massachusetts. Artists included in this exhibition are William Matthew Prior, Samuel Miller, Ammi Phillips, Joseph Whiting Stock, Sturtevant J. Hamblin, A. Ames, and Erastus Salisbury Field. Stock, Field, and Phillips all had particularly strong ties to the Berkshire region.

This exhibition was organized in conjunction with the Fenimore Art Museum of Cooperstown, New York.

This exhibition is part of "American Traditions," a collaboration of leading Berkshire County cultural institutions, taking place this summer. For information on American Traditions, visit www.berkshiresarts.org.

The Clark is celebrating 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 (through September 5, 2005). In summer 2006, The Clark Brothers Collect Renoir to Matisse, Homer to Hopper 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 throughout the 18-month festivities.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (daily in July and August). Gallery admission June 1 through October 31 is $10 for adults, free for children 18 and under, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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