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“Night in the City: Whistler, Fireworks, and Dancing Girls” Lecture at the Clark August 10

For Immediate Release

July 31, 2008

James McNeill Whistler’s nocturnes, which were some of his most controversial and influential paintings, will be the subject of the lecture “Night in the City: Whistler, Fireworks, and Dancing Girls” on Sunday, August 10, at 3 pm, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Dr. Margaret MacDonald, co-author of the Whistler paintings catalogue raisonné and author of the Whistler drawings, pastels, and watercolors catalogue raisonné, will discuss Whistler’s nocturnes and their relation to his life and times. Admission to the lecture is free.

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was among the first painters to focus on the pictorial richness and ambiguity of nocturnal mists. Fireworks and pleasurable freedoms offered at London’s Cremorne Gardens, the site of many of his views, complicated the seeming gentleness of the night. MacDonald will focus on Whistler’s revolutionary nocturnal depictions and his complementary portrayal of the people of the night. Casting a fresh look at the mystery and methods of Whistler’s work, MacDonald will also emphasize his distinctive ability to combine effectively the often-clashing aspirations generally associated with realism, impressionism, or symbolism.

MacDonald, an art historian and painter, received her doctor of letters degree from the University of Glasgow where she is currently professor of art history. She has written and lectured extensively on Whistler, most recently editing Whistler’s Mother: An American Icon and co-authoring Whistler, Women, and Fashion, which was awarded the William E. Fischelis Book Award for 2004 by The Victorian Society in America. She is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly is the first exhibition to explore “painting softly,” a distinctive and unexamined approach to painting exemplified in works by James McNeill Whistler and George Inness. Like Breath on Glass brings together forty paintings by leading American artists working around 1900, including Whistler, Inness, William Merritt Chase, John Twachtman, Eduard Steichen, and others, to examine this style of painting through which artists obscured their brush strokes. The exhibition is on view through October 19.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open daily in July and August from 10 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays September through June). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, 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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