For Immediate Release
August 28, 2023


Williamstown, Massachusetts—On Tuesday, September 26, the Clark Art Institute’s Research and Academic Program hosts a talk by Brigid Doherty (Princeton University / Clark Fellow), who considers the significance of Raphael’s The Sistine Madonna (1512/13) in and around two epochal essays of the twentieth century: Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” (1935–39) and Martin Heidegger’s “The Origin of the Work of Art” (1935–36). The free lecture takes place at 5:30 pm in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center.

The Sistine Madonna has figured prominently in German-language art history, literature, and philosophy since the publication of Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s On the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture (1755). In his “artwork essay,” Benjamin mentions the painting only in a footnote, while Heidegger returns to the premises of his “artwork essay” in a short, pseudo-epistolary reflection on the Sistine Madonna published in 1955. Despite their brevity, these two appraisals of the painting have broad implications for our understanding of its place in the culture of European modernity and, perhaps, for how we approach the history of art now. 

Brigid Doherty is associate professor of German and art and archaeology at Princeton University, where she is also an associated faculty member in the School of Architecture and a member of the executive committees for the European Cultural Studies and Media + Modernity programs. At the Clark, she is completing research for a book on Raphael’s The Sistine Madonna and the idea of the “artwork essay” in German-language art history and philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century, with a focus on writings by Heinrich Wölfflin, Walter Benjamin, and Martin Heidegger.

Free. A 5 pm reception in the Manton Research Center reading room precedes the program. For more information, visit

The next Research and Academic Program lecture is presented by Elena Shtromberg (University of Utah / Clark Fellow), who examines how contemporary video works have confronted the persistence of colonial illustrations circulated in European travel narratives. The event takes place on Tuesday, October 3 at 5:30 pm in the Clark’s auditorium.

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 some 300,000 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, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Its 140-acre campus includes miles of hiking and walking trails through woodlands and meadows, providing an exceptional experience of art in nature. Galleries are open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Sunday, from September through June, and daily in July and August. Admission is free January through March and is $20 from March through December; admission is free year-round for Clark members, all visitors age 21 and under, and students with a valid student ID. Free admission is also available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; and EBT Card to Culture. For information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.

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