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Noted Pissarro Scholars to Participate in Free Clark Symposium Pissarro's Politics in Context: Anarchism and the Arts in France, 1849-1900

For Immediate Release

August 30, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Research and Academic Program brings together noted scholars Richard R. Brettell, Linda Nochlin, Joachim Pissarro, Stephen Eisenman, Patricia Leighten, Dana Ward, Allan Antliff, Robyn Roslak, and Karen Levitov for a free public symposium on Saturday, September 10 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Pissarro’s Politics in Context: Anarchism and the Arts in France, 1849-1900 will address the impact of radical politics on artists in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, contextualizing the Clark’s summer exhibition Pissarro’s People, curated by Richard R. Brettell.

This symposium will reassess the place of radical politics in the visual arts of the 1890s, including that of Camille Pissarro and his circle. The scholars will explore the prevalence and variety of anarchist thought in the period; the means for its dissemination into the art world through journals, pamphlets, and art publications; the place of artists and art-making within anarchist art and activism; and the “aesthetics” of anarchist politics. Pissarro’s Politics in Context marks the beginning of a new series of events organized jointly between the Research and Academic Program and the Museum at the Clark investigating the repercussions of an exhibition—for both curators and art historians. This program is funded by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Pissarro was the most politically radical and socially progressive of the Impressionist painters.  Attracted to leftist ideas in his youth, he was probably introduced to the writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865), the foremost French anarchist philosopher, a few years after his 1855 arrival in Paris. An avid reader, Pissarro formulated his own sophisticated understanding of anarchism from newspapers, essays, and pamphlets, some of which were illegally distributed in France. As a subscriber and sometime contributor to journals such as La Révolte and Les temps nouveaux, Pissarro appeared on government watch lists of known anarchists, and his letters were intercepted and censored by the police. Many of the leading anarchists known to Pissarro—including Élisée Reclus (1830–1905), Jean Grave (1854–1939), and Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921)—were arrested or banished from the country. Despite the real danger of arrest for his political views, Pissarro remained dedicated to anarchist ideals, which shaped how he lived and worked.

The Clark

Set amidst 140 acres in the Berkshires, the Clark is one of the few major art museums that also serves as a leading international center for research and scholarship, presenting public and education programs and organizing groundbreaking exhibitions that advance new scholarship. The institution’s research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and conferences; together with Williams College, the Clark sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history. 

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is $15 June 1 through October 31. Admission is 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 clarkart.edu.

Calendar Listing

September 10: The Clark’s Research and Academic Program brings together noted scholars Richard R. Brettell, Linda Nochlin, Joachim Pissarro, Stephen Eisenman, Patricia Leighten, Dana Ward, Allan Antliff, Robyn Roslak, and Karen Levitov for a public symposium on Saturday, September 10 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Pissarro’s Politics in Context: Anarchism and the Arts in France, 1849-1900 will address the impact of radical politics on artists in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, contextualizing the Clark’s summer exhibition Pissarro’s People, curated by Richard R. Brettell. The Clark, 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 413 458 2303, clarkart.edu.

Contact: 
pr@clarkart.edu

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