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In Search of Lost Time: Ruins in Photography opens January 13 at the Clark

For Immediate Release

January 08, 2007

With the spread of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the public fascination with the ruins of past civilizations grew as never before. Fueled by this attraction, and made possible by photographic advancements, early photographers began to capture images of ruins. In Search of Lost Time: Ruins in Photography, a focused exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, features a selection of European photographs of ruins dating to the 1850s, ranging from Egypt to Italy, Britain and southern France. The photographs are drawn from the collections of the Clark and the Troob Family Foundation. In Search of Lost Time is on view January 13 through May 13.

“The fascinating works that comprise In Search of Lost Time date to the 1850s, the golden age of French and British photography,” said James Ganz, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs. “During that time, the exoticness of ruins and past civilizations appealed to photographers and the public, resulting in a stunning array of such images. The Clark’s collection of prints, drawings, and photographs is particularly strong in this area.”

By the 1850s, improvements in photographic technology enabled photographers to feed the public’s interest in exotic cultures. Photographs offered “armchair travelers” a chance to view accurate representations of locations they would never have a chance to visit. At the same time, a rapidly changing world created an urgency to capture vulnerable architectural subjects.

In Search of Lost Time features 13 photographs by Félix Teynard, Francis Frith, Benjamin Brecknell Turner, Auguste Salzmann, Charles Nègre, Robert Macpherson, and James Anderson, some of which are being shown at the Clark for the first time since they joined the collection. Subjects range from the Tomb of Khnumhotep in Egypt and Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem to Whitby Abbey in England and the Colosseum in Rome.

In Search of Lost Time was organized by students of the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art under the direction of Ganz, a lecturer in the program housed at the Clark. The program is one of the nation’s leading M.A. programs in art history, which has been part of the professional development of a significant number of directors of art museums, curators, and scholars.

On the topic of ruins, Christopher Woodward, director of the Museum of Garden History, London, will present the free lecture “The Ruins of America” on Sunday, March 11 at 2 pm. In the last decades of the 20th century American artists have created a new and distinctive language of ruin. Woodward will discuss why the United States—long before 9/11—has become the country most preoccupied by ruins.

Sterling and Francine Clark amassed some 500 drawings and 1,400 prints that formed the basis for a curatorial department devoted to works on paper—now the department of prints, drawings, and photographs—spanning the history of the graphic arts from the 15th century through the mid 20th century. The collection now numbers around 5,000 works on paper. The Clark began acquiring early photographs in 1998 and has assembled a core selection of nearly 500 photographs.

The Troob Family Foundation, among other endeavors, supports the visual and performing arts by building and developing arts initiatives for public education and appreciation. The photography collection of the Troob Family Foundation is housed at the Clark.

The Clark’s study room of prints, drawings, and photographs is available by advance notice. For an appointment, email print@clarkart.edu, or call 413-458-0560.

The Clark
Set amidst 140 bucolic acres in the picturesque Berkshires, the Clark is one of the few major art museums in the United States that also serves as a leading international center for research and higher education. In addition to its extraordinary collections, the Clark organizes groundbreaking special exhibitions that advance new scholarship and presents an array of public and educational programs. The Clark’s research and academic programs include an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia. The Clark, together with Williams College, sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s 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.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.


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