Opening Lecture for Electric Paris

3:00 p.m. Sun, Feb 17, 2013

Venue: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

225 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267


Sally Majewski


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Paris is known as the City of Light, but in the later nineteenth century it could also have been called the City of Lights. As the French capital transitioned from oil and gas lights to electric illumination, artists responded to components of the new lighting in many of their pictures. In her lecture, guest curator S. Hollis Clayson examines how Paris came to be defined not just by the beautiful daytime sky and star-filled night, but by the artificial light that preoccupied many French and American artists of the Impressionist era and beyond.The images displayed in Electric Paris record the changing appearance of both interior and exterior spaces, and suggest the ways in which Parisians experienced these spaces as the city shifted from old to new technologies. Images representing both high art and popular culture, including paintings, prints, magazine illustrations, and photographs, will demonstrate that lighting was a key aspect in defining Paris as a modern city.Electric Paris draws primarily from the collection of the Clark and the Troob Family Foundation, with several key works lent by other institutions.

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