Important exhibits this fall at WCMA, Clark not to be missed

Somtimes Williams students are so awestruck by the beauty of their natural surroundings that they overlook the wealth of cultural opportunities that Williamstown offers. Most notable is the wide array of art exhibits available to students on and around the Williams College campus. This fall there are several exhibits, covering a wide range of genres, coming to Williamstown.

The Clark Institute houses a nationally acclaimed permanent collection which focuses on antique silver and impressionist paintings. The museum will show three additional exhibits this semester. Already open is one entitled “Farewell to the Wet Nurse: Etienne Aubrey and Images of Breast Feeding in 18th Century France.”

According to Cheryl Engels, public relations coordinator at the Clark, the exhibit focuses on “the changing attitudes towards breast feeding when people stopped sending their children to wet nurses and breast fed themselves.” It also touches on the political connotations that breast feeding took on during the French Revolution. This highly anticipated exhibit collects obscure paintings from collections all over the world, from Williamstown to Moscow. “Farewell” wil remain on display until January 3.

Charles White’s “Progress of the American Negro 1930-1940” opens in October and runs through January 3. It takes its name from one of White’s most famous paintings. This exhibit features a mural recently restored at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center housed in the Clark. “Progress” is the first in a series of restoration projects aimed at preserving art from historically black colleges and universities.

Running concurrently with White’s work is “Dürer’s ‘Apocalypse,’” a display from the permanent collection at the Institute. The Clark has a fairly rare set of first edition prints from 1498, and this exhibition of this collection marks the 500th anniversary of the print series “The Apocalypse,” one of Albrecht Dürer’s endring masterpieces.

WCMA also has an exciting set of shows this semester. The celebrated “Graphic Design in the Mechanical Age: Selections from the Merrill C. Berman Collection” continues through November 1. This exhibit consists of over 200 pieces of progressive graphic design from the first half of the 20th century. Many of these pieces have never before been exhibited. “Graphic Design” is traveling internationally in association with Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.

Also at WCMA this semester is “Beyond Borders: Two Portfolios by Robert Ryman and Tim Rollins + K.O.S. (Kids of Survival).” This exhibit, which will be open through January 3, features six aquatints by Robert Ryman, an artist who explores color and form in minimalism. Also showing are 14 prints by Tim Rollins and K.O.S., an ever-changing group of teenage artists.

In addition, “Romare Bearden in Black and White: Photomontage Projections, 1964” runs from November 28 to January 24. In 1963, Romare Bearden was instrumental in the founding of Spiral, a group of African-American artists working for the civil rights movement. Using materials from an unfinished Spiral project, Bearden made collages which reflected themes from his childhood summers spent in the south and in Pittsburgh: biblical themes, jazz and blues music, and urban life in Harlem, according to WCMA. The exhibit at WCMA features 20 photomontage projections and five collages.

WCMA will also show “A Sampling of the Eighteenth Century” through January 24. This is an exhibit consisting of paintings from WCMA’s permanent collection as well as two paintings on loan from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, Reynolds’ Cupid as a Link Boy (1774) and Hogarth’s The Lady’s Last Stake (1759). The exhibit highlights portraits and genre and historical scenes that comment on moral and satirical aspects of the 18th century society.

Also from the Albright-Knox is the especially exciting “A Leap of Faith: Abstract Art from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery,” on display at WCMA through February 14. The Albright-Knox is renowned for its notable collections of American non-representational art from the early 1940s and paintings and sculptures from the early 1950s through the 1970s. Artists such as Lee Bontecou, Herbert Ferber, Robert Motherwell, Albert Giacomini, Clifford Still, Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell and Willem De Kooning are included. Never before have so many important works of the abstract expressionist movement been on view in the area.

Still on display at WCMA is “Tradition and Transition: African Art from the Brooklyn Museum of Art.” The exhibit will remain up through January of 2000. It features African Royal art from the colonial and post-colonial eras, combining pieces from the Brooklyn Museum with privately owned works and representatives of the museum’s permanent collection. Included are objects used in religious or political ceremonial life from various visual traditions of the western Sudan region, the Guinea coast, Central Africa and East Africa.

In addition to the special exhibits this semester, WCMA has an impressive permanent collection of American art of the 19th and 20th centuries. WCMA also hosts a series of special events and lectures. For a complete of exhibits, or more information, schedule contact the museum at (413)597.2429 or consult its web page at http://www.williams.edu/WCMA.