Monet’s Rare Sketchbooks Now Available Digitally through Searchable Database at the Clark and Online

For Immediate Release

August 13, 2007

Get a glimpse of Claude Monet’s private, rarely seen sketchbooks at The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute through September 16. Four of Monet’s eight surviving sketchbooks are included in The Unknown Monet, and all eight have been digitized and made available through an interactive computer database designed by the Clark, in collaboration with the Musée Marmottan Monet.

Newly photographed, the complete contents of these books—some three hundred drawings—are featured in an innovative, searchable database and series of computer kiosks that give unprecedented access to works that are among Monet’s least refined yet most intimate artistic endeavors. Although the technology used to produce this type of interactive database has been available for some time, utilizing it to make art more accessible to the general public is a recent advancement in the art world. This project is one of the best examples of allowing public virtual access to fragile and rare art.

Visitors to the galleries or online will learn about Monet’s artistic process and life by interacting with his extensive studies of grain stacks, water lilies, Giverny, and Étretat. With a click of a mouse, visitors can virtually page through the eight sketchbooks, where they can rotate pages 90 degrees at a time in any direction, zoom in on a particular image, and search through all 300 images to pull up drawings related to a selected topic or time period. The searchable database is also available to the public online at www.clarkart.edu.

From his early years in Le Havre through his final period of activity at Giverny, Monet used sketchbook drawings to explore visual ideas as he contemplated subjects to paint. The primary evidence for this aspect of Monet's working method consists of eight bound sketchbooks that were left to his son, Michel, who in turn gave them to the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris in 1966.

The Unknown Monet is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s graphic works, including pastels, finished drawings, and sketchbooks. The show sheds new light on several aspects of Monet’s creative process by presenting a significant body of these works, many of which have not been previously exhibited, alongside related examples of his work in oil. The exhibition is on view through Sunday, September 16.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, MA. The galleries are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm in July and August (closed Mondays September through June). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 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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