First Exhibition of George Inness's Berkshire Landscapes Opens at the Clark February 6
For Immediate Release
January 15, 2005
The first-ever exhibition devoted to the Berkshire landscapes of George Inness (1825-1894), one of the most prominent American artists of the 19th century, will open at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute on February 6, 2005. A Walk in the Country: Inness and the Berkshires will showcase about 15 paintings by Inness, including several rarely seen works from private collections. These views, painted by Inness from the 1840s through the 1870s, trace the course of Inness's style and career.
"The Berkshires have been a center of cultural and intellectual activity for 150 years, attracting many artists, writers, and musicians," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. "Inness was engaged with this cultural community for three decades and had many important patrons among the legendary 'Berkshire Cottage' summer home owners. In many ways, his timeless, idealized paintings do for the Berkshires what Cole and Church did for the Hudson Valley."
The Berkshires in the mid-19th century attracted a vibrant community of artists, writers, and thinkers, including Inness's first major supporter, Odgen Haggerty, who had a large summer home in Lenox; famed minister and orator Henry Ward Beecher, another Inness patron; and novelist Catherine Sedgwick. Photographs, letters, and other historical papers relating to Inness's Berkshire circle will be reproduced in the exhibition.
Inspired by the Berkshire landscape in the summer and fall, Inness idealized the scenes in his paintings to emphasize timelessness and emotional resonance over realistic representation. Among the works featured in the exhibition are View in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Clearing Off After a September Storm (1849, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wy.), Summer Sunshine and Shadow (c. 1862, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas), and In the Berkshires (1877-8, Malden Public Library, Malden, Massachusetts).
Because Inness employed a Berkshire theme at different points in his career, the exhibition traces the development of the artist's style. His early works drew inspiration from the old masters, while others look to the French artists of the Barbizon school. Inness's later works are strongly influenced by philosophical theories of his time, especially the teachings of Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg.
Born in Newburgh, N.Y., George Inness spent his younger years in Newark, N.J. Early on, his use of color and light was influenced by Barbizon artists Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, and Theodore Rousseau. In the 1860s, Inness's work took a more spiritual turn as he studied Swedenborg. Swedenborg, whose followers included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Walt Whitman, stressed the correspondences among God, the physical world, and the spiritual world, emphases that are evident in Inness's later landscapes. In 1878, Inness settled in Montclair, N.J. It was toward the end of his life (and after his death) that he gained his greatest fame, exerting tremendous influence over American landscape painting.
The Clark, known for its collection of 19th-century American paintings by Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Frederic Remington, also has two works by Inness in its collection. Though not painted in the Berkshires, Home at Montclair, 1892, and Wood Gatherers: An Autumn Afternoon, 1841, will be featured at the time of the Inness exhibition.
The exhibition will be on view February 6 through April 17, 2005.
Media for A Walk in the Country is sponsored by Berkshire Bank.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. The Clark is recognized for its special exhibitions, which concurrently advance critical thought and generate popular interest in the arts. Recent critically acclaimed exhibitions, organized by the Clark in collaboration with major European and American museums, include: "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet!": The Bruyas Collection from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier (Summer 2004), Turner: The Late Seascapes (Summer 2003), Renoir and Algeria (Winter 2003), and Gustav Klimt Landscapes (2002). Forthcoming exhibitions include Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile (Summer 2005).
The Institute is one of only a few art museums in the U.S. that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. Its Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world.
In 2003, the Clark unveiled designs for its forthcoming building expansion and campus enhancement, designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect, Tadao Ando.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Throughout A Walk in the Country, the Clark galleries will be open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.