Orientalism: An International Affair" to be Topic of Clark Symposium July 28 and 29

For Immediate Release

July 17, 2000

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (July 17, 2000) - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will offer the symposium "Orientalism: An International Affair" on Friday, July 28, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday, July 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Presented in connection with the current exhibition Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, the symposium will take a global perspective and distinguish Orientalism from other related trends in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American Art and visual culture. Six renowned speakers will highlight the intellectual, ideological, and economic correlatives of Orientalism, and examine its many continuing artistic and political legacies. The symposium is free and open to the public. For more information or to reserve a space, call the Events Office at 413-458-2303, extension 324.

The first session, to take place on Friday, July 28, will be "Orientalism and Related Ideas in Modern Critical Thought." Following introductory remarks by Michael Ann Holly, director of research and academic programs at the Clark, at 2:00 p.m., Stephen F. Eisenman, professor of art history at Northwestern University, will give the talk "Orientalism (and Occidentalism), Exoticism, Primitivism, Racism, etc." At 2:35 p.m., Richard Brettell, professor of art history at the University of Texas at Dallas, will speak on "Delacroix and Orientalism: After a la Turque." Sally Price, professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, will present "Authoring and Othering: Reflections on the Voices of Art Criticism" at 3:00 p.m. Friday's session will conclude with a discussion moderated by Mary Weismantel, professor of anthropology at Northwestern University.

Following coffee at 9:00 a.m., Saturday morning's session will focus on "Modern and Indigenous Orientalism in France and Algeria." The first talk will be "Renoir and the Problem of Impressionist Orientalism" by Roger Benjamin, research fellow, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University, Canberra, at 10:00 a.m. At 10:50 a.m., Francois Pouillon, director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, will give the lecture "Mirrors within Mirrors: 150 Years of Algerian Painting." At 11:40 a.m., Brettell will lead a discussion followed by a break.

The Saturday afternoon session, "American Orientalism in Fine Art and Mass Culture," will begin at 2:00 p.m. Gerald Ackerman, professor emeritus of art history at Pomona College, California, will speak on "A Biographical Approach to the Study of American Orientalism." Frances Pohl, professor of art history at Pomona College, will give the talk "The Search for the 'Oriental' Close to Home: Representations of Native Americans in the Early Twentieth Century" at 2:50 p.m. The final speaker will be Gaylyn Studlar, professor of film studies and English language and literature and director of the program in film and video studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who will present "In the Space of Elsewhere: Hollywood Orientalism and the 'Atmospheric' Motion Picture Palace" at 3:40 p.m. The day will conclude with a 4:30 discussion followed by a reception.

Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures traces America's fascination with an imagined, exotic Middle East. Beginning with paintings by Frederic Edwin Church and John Singer Sargent and extending to its widespread dissemination in popular culture, including films such as Rudolph Valentino's The Sheik, over one hundred objects illustrate the associations conjured up by the Holy Land, Egypt, and North Africa in the popular imagination of turn-of-the-century America. Organized by the Clark Art Institute, Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures will be on view at the Clark through September 4, then travel to the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland, October 3, 2000, to December 10, 2000, and to the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina, February 3, 2001 to April 22, 2001.

"Orientalism: An International Affair" is offered by the Clark's division of Research and Academic Programs, which presents symposia, colloquia, seminars, and lectures on a variety of topics as well as one major Clark conference a year on an issue of importance to the art history field. The Clark Fellows Program brings leading scholars from universities and museums around the world to Williamstown for up to a year to research and develop ideas focused on art and related critical and historical issues. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of a handful of institutions in the United States that combines a public art museum with a separate series of research and academic programs, supported by a major art history library. As such, the Institute functions as an international center for research and discussion on art as well as its history, criticism, and the institutions that shape and support the field.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

Return to the previous page