Clark Art Institute Announces Summer 2021 Exhibitions

The Clark Art Institute announces its summer 2021 exhibition schedule featuring a diverse program of exhibitions ranging from the exceptional work of one of Norway’s most revered artists to exciting contemporary projects. The 2021 summer season includes the continuation of the Clark’s first outdoor exhibition, Ground/work, featuring site-responsive works created by six international artists working in dialogue with the Clark’s distinctive 140-acre campus.

“This will be an exciting summer at the Clark, full of new discoveries and wonderful opportunities to enjoy art both in our galleries and on our grounds,” said Olivier Meslay, Hardymon Director of the Clark. “From the fantastical objects created by sculptors Claude andFrançois-XavierLalanne to the lively paintings and prints of Nikolai Astrup, we will be introducing audiences to artists who may not be familiar, but whose work is sure to engage and inspire new admirers. Our contemporary projects, Ground/work and Erin Shirreff: Remainders, also provide our audiences with new opportunities to explore the current work of some of the most exciting artists working today. And we round out our summer offerings with a look back at the masterful work of Albrecht Dürer and his abiding influence on generations of artists.”

The Clark’s summer exhibitions will open on a staggered schedule, beginning in May 2021. The program includes:

Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne: Nature Transformed
May 8–October 31, 2021

It has been more than forty years since an American art museum has mounted a presentation of the work of sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, and the Clark’s exhibition this summer provides a fresh perspective on these innovative artists. Their imaginative and powerful sculptures have long delighted international audiences and collectors. During their remarkable careers, the married artists worked and exhibited together, often under the joint name “Les Lalanne,” although they seldom collaborated on objects.

Common to both artists was their abiding interest in nature. From their earliest exhibition in 1964, entitled Zoophites, a reference to objects with a mixture of animal and plant characteristics, the artists repeatedly drew inspiration from flora and fauna and morphed these natural forms into something strange and new. In her works, Claude Lalanne (1924–2019) transformed familiar plants and animals into lyrical and sometimes surreal creations while François-Xavier Lalanne (1927–2008) turned his fascination with the mysterious inner life of animals into abstracted and refined sculptural forms that often concealed a practical function. In the work of both Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, artistic vision bends natural forms to new uses.

The Clark is the sole venue for this exhibition, which also marks the first museum presentation of the artists’ work since the 2019 death of Claude Lalanne. Nature Transformed features an equal number of objects by each artist from across their long careers, revealing the power of their artistic imagination, their impressive command of technique, and their enduring visual appeal. The works include sculpture and furniture by both artists and a selection of Claude Lalanne’s wildly inventive flatware and jewelry.

Nature Transformed, presented in the Clark’s Michael Conforti Pavilion and in additional outdoor locations, is curated by Kathleen Morris, the Clark’s Sylvia and Leonard Marx Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Decorative Arts. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published by the Clark and distributed by Yale University Press.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by Denise Littlefield Sobel. Significant funding is provided by Sylvia and Leonard Marx and by the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund, with additional support from Agnes Gund and Robert D. Kraus. The exhibition catalogue has been published with the generous support of Denise Littlefield Sobel, with additional support from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway
June 19–September 19, 2021

The Clark presents the first North American exhibition focused on the Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup (1880–1928), who deftly wove tradition and innovation into his artistic production. Astrup is considered one of Norway’s most important artists, yet he is largely unknown outside of his homeland. Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway features more than eighty-five works celebrating this brilliant painter, printmaker, and horticulturalist.

Astrup’s oeuvre is notable for its intense, colorful palette, and the magical realism of his remarkable landscapes. Paintings and woodcuts from all periods of his career are presented in the exhibition, including multiple impressions of print compositions that reveal how Astrup modified the mood and meaning of these works through changes in color and the addition or deletion of motifs, often using multiple blocks to create his complex prints.

After training in Kristiania (Oslo) and Paris, Astrup returned to his childhood home and pursued his career in the remote region of western Norway overlooking Lake Jølster. Eventually, he settled on a property called Sandalstrand, situated across the lake from where he was raised. There he created a farmstead that served as a source of inspiration for his artistic purposes, sustained his family, and proved an early manifestation of ecological conservation.

The area’s sublime landscape, distinctive atmosphere, and ethereal summer light captivated Astrup, while his childhood memories—marked by local traditions and Norwegian folklore—deeply shaped his perception of place. Astrup’s work responded to, and helped shape, Norway’s emerging national identity. He created a distinctive visual language that expands on the intentions and achievements of composer Edvard Grieg (1843–1907) and playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) in Norwegian music and literature, respectively.

Guest curated by independent scholar MaryAnne Stevens, former Director of Academic Affairs at the Royal Academy, London, Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway is presented in The Clark’s special exhibition galleries and is accompanied by a catalogue published by the Clark and distributed by Yale University Press. The exhibition travels to the KODE Art Museums, Bergen, Norway, from October 15, 2021–January 23, 2022, and to the Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, from February 19–May 29, 2022.

Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway is organized by the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in cooperation with KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen, and the Savings Bank Foundation DNB, and Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde. The exhibition has been generously supported by the Savings Bank Foundation DNB. Additional support is provided by Richard and Carol Seltzer and Diane and Andreas Halvorsen. The exhibition catalogue has been published with generous support from the Savings Bank Foundation DNB, with additional support from the Asbjorn Lunde Foundation.

Open through October 17, 2021

The Clark’s first outdoor exhibition Ground/work consists of site-responsive installations by six contemporary artists presented in locations across the pastoral setting of its 140-acre campus. International artists Kelly Akashi (b. 1983, Los Angeles), Nairy Baghramian (b. 1971, Isfahan, Iran), Jennie C. Jones (b. 1968, Cincinnati), Eva LeWitt (b. 1985, Spoleto, Italy), Analia Saban (b. 1980, Buenos Aires), and Haegue Yang (b. 1971, Seoul) were invited to conceive of a response to the Clark’s landscape and to be in active dialogue with the natural environment and setting.

Collapsing the traditional hierarchy of sculpture in the landscape, where the object takes precedence over its site and context, Ground/work instead focuses on nature as subject, participant, and raw material. The projects demonstrate how the experience of space out-of-doors can be shifted and manipulated by forces both solid and ephemeral. The Ground/work artists probe issues of materiality, scale, form, and function, expressing themes and motifs core to their individual practices while exploring new conceptual and physical terrain.

Ground/work highlights the passage of time, bringing to the fore ideas of chance, transience, and transformation articulated in three dimensions. Offering an intimacy of encounter, the artists each generate new sculptural gestures that engage features of the Clark’s landscape to blur—or to bring into focus—boundaries between the familiar and the unknown.

Open to the public day and night, Ground/work provides unique access to artworks beyond the museum walls. Extending the connections between the ecosystem of Stone Hill, the Clark’s architecture, its renowned permanent collection, and contemporary artistic practice, this exhibition expands upon the Clark’s commitment to create a place where visitors can experience remarkable works of art in a setting of profound natural beauty.

Ground/work is organized by the Clark Art Institute and guest curated by Molly Epstein and Abigail Ross Goodman.

Ground/work is made possible by Denise Littlefield Sobel. Major support for Ground/work is provided by Karen and Robert Scott and Paul Neely. Additional funding is generously provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art; the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor; Maureen Fennessy Bousa and Edward P. Bousa; Amy and Charlie Scharf; Elizabeth Lee; MASS MoCA; Chrystina and James Parks; Howard M. Shapiro and Shirley Brandman; Joan and Jim Hunter; James and Barbara Moltz; and a gift in honor of Marilyn and Ron Walter.

Dürer & After
July 17–October 3, 2021

Drawing from its extensive holdings of the works of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), the Clark offers a unique opportunity to assess his centuries-long artistic legacy in this exhibition. Revered for his technical virtuosity, profound pictorial imagination, and vast production across media, Dürer was one of the first European artists whose prints garnered appreciation as art. The bold AD monogram that adorns much of his work asserts not just the crafting of a printable matrix, but also the authorship of a pictorial idea, “the likes of which,” he famously said, was “never before seen nor thought of by any other man.”

Until well into the fifteenth century, printmaking in Europe was regarded not as an art form but as a utilitarian method of replicating and circulating imagery. That began to change due to Dürer’s prolific, versatile, and technically dazzling print oeuvre. Dürer has long attracted all manner of imitators, copyists, and interpreters. Running the gamut from strict copies to free interpretations, works credited as “after-Dürer” reflect a range of motives. While many imitators copied in the spirit of learning from or paying homage to his brilliant art, others sought to deceive or profit by sowing confusion around an image’s true authorship. In this exhibition, presented in the Eugene V. Thaw Gallery for Works on Paper, originals and copies are grouped together to reveal the complex afterlife of some of Dürer’s most celebrated images.

This exhibition is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

Erin Shirreff: Remainders
Open through January 2, 2022

This year-long exhibition highlights the work of contemporary artist Erin Shirreff (Canadian, b. 1975) and her fascination with the mythmaking behind art history through a practice that spans analog and digital media, two and three dimensions, and still and moving images.

The exhibition features photographs, prints, and video. In these works, Shirreff manipulates objects she has constructed as well as photographs of sculptures found in art books, transforming works with camera lens and printing process. Through these experiments, Shirreff asks what is left of the original experience of an artwork once it has entered the historical record and what traces of an artist’s labor might still be legible after the fact. The exhibition includes photographs on paper and aluminum that have been creased and cut, to take on sculptural dimensions, as well as the artist’s video work, featuring photographs of the artist’s graphite-colored, poured plaster forms stitched together to create a seamless picture that scrolls slowly across the screen. 

Erin Shirreff was born in Kelowna, British Columbia, and lives and works in Montreal. Trained as a sculptor, with an MFA from Yale University, she consistently works between photography, sculpture, and video to explore the relationship between objects and their representations. Her work has recently been the subject of solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Kunsthalle Basel; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and Albright-Knox Gallery. Shirreff is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York and Bradley Ertaskiran, Montreal. 

The Clark has highlighted the works of contemporary artists through special exhibitions for more than forty years. The Shirreff exhibition marks the second year-long installation in the Clark’s public spaces curated by Robert Wiesenberger, associate curator of contemporary projects, as part of an ongoing series. This free exhibition is on view in public spaces in the Lower Clark Center and the Reading Room of the Manton Research Center.  

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