Oliver Meslay, Felda and Dena Hardymon Director of the Clark Art Institute, today announced the Institute’s ambitious schedule of summer 2017 exhibitions. The Clark will host four special exhibitions focused on the work of Pablo Picasso, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and Helen Frankenthaler, offering a diverse array of presentations featuring paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts.
“We are looking forward to an exceptional summer and are delighted to be able to bring such important works to Williamstown to share them with our community and our visitors,” said Meslay. “Some of these exhibitions originate from the Clark’s permanent collection and some are presented through the generosity of lenders with whom we have close working relationships—and all of them promise to offer new insights into the artists whose works are on view. This will be the first summer season in which our entire campus will be fully open, and we think it will be a spectacular experience for our visitors.”
Two exhibitions open on June 4 and two open on July 2. They are:
June 4–August 27, 2017
Picasso: Encounters explores Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) interest in and experimentation with large-scale printmaking throughout his career, challenging the notion of Picasso as an artist alone with his craft. The exhibition includes important paintings on loan from the Musée national Picasso–Paris. The exhibition addresses his expansive formal vocabulary, the narrative preoccupations that drove his creative process, the often-neglected issue of the collaboration inherent in print production, and the muses that inspired him, including Fernande Olivier, Olga Khokhlova, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque.
The exhibition begins with Picasso’s seminal Self-Portrait (1901) from his Blue Period as a representation of the artist’s mythic isolation. The painting, on loan from the Musée national Picasso–Paris, is followed by thirty-five of the artist’s most important graphic achievements, ranging from the Clark’s rare impression of The Frugal Repast (1904)—Picasso’s first major statement in printmaking—to Ecce Homo, after Rembrandt (1970), executed three years before his death.
Picasso continuously mined his personal life for subject matter. The exhibition includes the captivating 1923 drypoint portrait of his first wife Olga, the playful image of his daughter Paloma (1952), and the heartrending aquatint of his embittered second wife Françoise Gilot (1952).
The exhibition also explores the intertwined narrative threads of the Minotauromachia (1934), The Large Bullfight (1935), and Weeping Woman I (1937). Four Weeping Woman prints are accompanied by Portrait of Dora Maar (1937), the revered oil painting on loan from the Musée national Picasso–Paris. Maar was Picasso’s muse and served as his model for the paintings, drawings, and prints of weeping women produced in the 1930s. Picasso’s final years, during which he transformed the compositions of Old Masters from Rembrandt to Cranach to Manet, are represented by linocuts such as Portrait of a Young Girl, after Cranach the Younger, II (1958) and Luncheon on the Grass, after Manet (1968).
The exhibition will be presented in the Clark Center’s Michael Conforti Pavilion.
Picasso: Encounters is organized by the Clark Art Institute, with the exceptional support of the Musée national Picasso–Paris. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by Margaret and Richard Kronenberg and Marilyn and Ron Walter.
Orchestrating Elegance: Alma-Tadema and Design
June 4–September 4, 2017
As interest in the painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912) surges, the Clark offers new insight into one of his most successful and distinctive artistic endeavors—the design of a music room in the Greco-Pompeian style for the New York mansion of financier, art collector, and philanthropist Henry Gurdon Marquand (1819–1902). Marquand was one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Alma-Tadema designed the decoration of a Steinway grand piano (now in the Clark’s collection) along with a matching suite of furniture and textiles for the room. The designs of the artist, the exquisite craftsmanship of the suite, and the taste and discrimination of the patron combined to create one of the most extraordinary rooms of the Gilded Age.
Orchestrating Elegance brings together twelve pieces of the original furniture suite, along with paintings, ceramics, textiles, and sculpture from the room, for the first time since Marquand’s estate was auctioned in 1903. Additional material provides background and context to examine the design and execution of the music room project.
The exhibition examines the room and its objects from a number of perspectives, including how the commission unfolded and why Alma-Tadema was chosen to design the interior; the roles played by various artists involved in the project; the aesthetic impact of the finished furniture and room; and the history of the piano as a musical instrument.
The exhibition will be presented in the Clark Center’s lower level galleries.
Generous contributors to Orchestrating Elegance include Sylvia and Leonard Marx and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Coby Foundation, Ltd., Jeannene Booher, Carmela and Paul Haklisch, and Robert D. Kraus. The exhibition catalogue has been published with support from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings
July 2–October 9, 2017
This exhibition comprises a selection of large paintings by Helen Frankenthaler from the 1950s through the 1990s, focusing on nature as a longstanding inspiration. Like many abstract artists, Frankenthaler continually tested the constraints of the genre, at times inserting into her compositions elements of recognizable subject matter that throw the abstract elements into relief. The paintings in this exhibition represent the full range of styles and techniques that she explored over five decades of work; while all are primarily abstract, they also contain allusions to landscape, demonstrating how Frankenthaler’s delicate balance between abstraction and a nuanced responsiveness to nature and place developed and shifted over time. As Frankenthaler once commented, “Anything that has beauty and provides order (rather than chaos or shock alone), anything resolved in a picture (as in nature) gives pleasure—a sense of rightness, as in being one with nature.”
The exhibition, presenting works on loan from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, will be shown in the Lunder Center at Stone Hill.
No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts
July 2–September 24, 2017
In 1994, when being interviewed by printer/publisher Ken Tyler, Helen Frankenthaler stated, “There are no rules, that is one thing I say about every medium, every picture . . . that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.”
No Rules explores Helen Frankenthaler’s inventive and groundbreaking approach to the woodcut. The artist began creating woodcuts after experimenting with lithography, etching, and screen printing. She produced her first woodcuts, East and Beyond (1973) and her ethereal Savage Breeze (1974), by carving pieces of wood with a jigsaw, inking each block of wood separately and arranging the pieces of wood to print them on paper. In Essence Mulberry (1977) and Cameo (1980), she invented a new technique termed “guzzying,” working the wood’s surface to achieve specific results when printed. Throughout her career, the artist worked with a variety of print publishers to push the medium in new directions. In 1983 she traveled to Japan and worked in traditional methods of color woodblock printing with an expert carver and printers to produce Cedar Hill (1983), resulting in an entirely different, layered approach to color.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Frankenthaler continued to experiment with enthusiasm and daring. For Freefall and Radius (both 1992–93), the artist worked with dyed paper pulp to create the maquettes for the final woodcuts. In Tales of Genji (1998) and Madame Butterfly (2000), she worked with a dazzling array of blocks and papers, collaborating with an expert Japanese carver, printers, and paper-makers to create serial images acknowledged to be landmarks in the evolution of the medium. Her final three woodcuts, Snow Pines (2004), Japanese Maple (2005), and Weeping Crabapple (2009), pay homage to three different types of trees in strikingly divergent ways.
No Rules will be presented in the Eugene V. Thaw Gallery for Works on Paper.
As in Nature and No Rules are made possible by the generous contribution of Denise Littlefield Sobel, with additional support from Richard and Carol Seltzer.
HELEN FRANKENTHALER AND WILLIAMSTOWN
During the 1979–80 academic year, Abstract Expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler was part of the Williams College Artist-in-Residence Program. At the end of this period, the Clark presented and toured a comprehensive exhibition of her prints, curated by Thomas Krens, then director of the Artist-in-Residence Program and incoming director of the Williams College Museum of Art. The Clark renews its association with the artist this summer with two exhibitions exploring her paintings and prints. As in Nature focuses on the complex meanings behind the color in Frankenthaler’s paintings, while No Rules features Frankenthaler’s rich woodcuts, executed over four decades of her career.
For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.