April 17, 2018

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Shira Brisman, Kress Fellow in the Literature of Art at the Clark Art Institute, presents the free lecture “The Provisionality of Sixteenth-century Designs” on Tuesday, May 1 at 5:30 pm. The lecture will be held in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center.

In the sixteenth century, as goldsmiths affiliated with families such as Jamnitzer and de Bry began to publish their engraved designs for objects that could be implemented as metalwork—jewelry, tableware, knife handles and sheaths—they did so with a new urgency, communicating to the collectors of these prints that if gold and silver were nature’s resource, available for use, artistic talent was also a resource, one that would die out if not put to use. These pattern-books were thus more than advertisements for what might be made. They were artistic expressions about the relationship of image to object produced during a time when social, religious, and economic changes posed threats to the most carefully guarded and heavily regulated craft trade.

Shira Brisman is assistant professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she teaches European art of the early modern era. She is the author of Albrecht Dürer and the Epistolary Mode of Address (University of Chicago Press, 2016). At the Clark, she is writing A Matter of Choice, a book that investigates how the family laws that shaped the structure of the workshop influenced the processes of artistic decision and revision in the wake of Protestant debates about free will.

The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; Bank of America Museums on Us; and Blue Star Museums. The Institute also has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
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