Contemporary photos hang while the Renoir paintings go on tour

Oh my! Where are those Renoir girls? They are touring the world with 68 other French Impressionist w

Oh my! Where are those Renoir girls?

“The Blonde Bather,” “Girl With a Fan,” “Child With a Bird” and “Sleeping Girls,” paintings that have hung in the Clark Art Institute for many years, are touring the world with 68 other French Impressionist works from the museum’s collection.

Visitors who are unaware of this development may be quite surprised when they enter what is unofficially called “The Renoir Room” and see the gallery dramatically transformed by “Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth,” an exhibit of large-scale contemporary photographs that runs through Sept. 5.

While the museum has always lent out individual works in the gallery, the room with the skylight is now entirely devoid of its Degas sculptures and paintings by many French Impressionists. It’s like riding a zip-line from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

‘Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth’

WHERE: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 225 South St., Williamstown, Mass.

WHEN: June 12 – September 5. Museum open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

HOW MUCH: $15, free for children age 18 and under and college students with ID

MORE INFO: (413) 458-2303 or

“We’re hoping people will be surprised and delighted,” said Michael Cassin, the Clark’s director of the Center for Education in the Visual Arts.

‘Pissarro’s People’

Click here to read about what Richard Rand, senior curator of paintings at the Clark Art Institute, calls “one of the most important Impressionist shows we’ve ever done.”

Artful meals at the Clark’s cafes

Dishes served at Clark eateries are artful and delicious. Click here for more info.

Höfer and Struth, German artists who trained together at the country’s renowned Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, are interested in public spaces and their super-sized color photographs conjure thoughts about society, culture and history.

The 19 images, which measure up to 9 feet in width, circumnavigate the walls as they transport the viewer to museums, libraries and monasteries in Norway, Austria, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Germany. In some of the photos, we see the people who are visiting these sacred spaces, interacting with iconic artworks. And some of them seem to be looking at us as we look at them.

The Clark’s first international tour, which began in Milan at the Palazzo Reale this spring and attracted more than 170,000 visitors, features paintings by Renoir, Monet, Manet, Morisot, Pissarro, Degas and eight other 19th century European artists.

On July 13, “The Clark’s Collection: From Manet to Renoir” opened at the Musee des Impressionnismes in Giverny, France, which is walking distance from the famed house and gardens of Claude Monet.

After Giverny, it travels this fall to the CaixaForum in Barcelona. Other 2012 venues include the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada.

In 2013, the “Renoir girls” will visit museums in Japan and China.

They’ll be back home at the Clark, hanging in their old space, in 2014.

Categories: Life and Arts

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