Gifts of Inner Life Celebrated at the Clark

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), A Pastoral, c. 1882–85. Oil on canvas, 30 x 45 in. (76.2 x 114.3 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Gift of Frank and Katherine Martucci, 2013.1.3

Eight landscapes by George Inness given to the Clark by Frank and Katherine Martucci will go on display June 9 with two Inness paintings collected by the museum’s founders. The exhibition examines the artist’s late work when Inness had moved away from plein-air painting and naturalistic portrayals of landscapes towards a more conceptual approach to capturing mood and the actions of light and shadow.

“The focused nature of this collection of ten works is an ideal way in which to consider George Inness at a point in his career in which his personal beliefs were imbuing his artistry in fascinating ways,” says Michael Conforti, director of the Clark.

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Green Landscape, 1886. Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 40 3/8 in. (76.8 x 102.6 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Gift of Frank and Katherine Martucci, 2013.1.5
George Inness (American, 1825–1894), Green Landscape, 1886. Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 40 3/8 in. (76.8 x 102.6 cm). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Gift of Frank and Katherine Martucci, 2013.1.5

Wanting to do more than simply mirror and record nature, Inness developed an approach that blended realism with a visionary expression of spiritual meaning. He experimented with color, composition, and painterly technique to present a vision of the natural world beyond its physical appearance.

Grounded in reality, many of the works were inspired by the countryside near the artist’s home in Montclair, New Jersey. Yet in them Inness sought to go beyond the limits of appearance to express the spiritual essence of the natural world. In Home at Montclair, Inness used thinly applied paint to capture a balance between naturalism and abstraction. Various painterly techniques—quick touches of the brush, areas of pigment wiped with a rag, and scoring wet paint with the reverse end of the artist’s brush—soften the contours of New Jersey Landscape. This blurring of forms evokes a sense of the metaphysical quality of the natural world.

George Inness: Gifts from Frank and Katherine Martucci, is on view at the Clark June 9 through September 8.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.

When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.

With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.

The result will be a book with a video component.

We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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