Renoir: “a hedonist’s dreamland”

Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow

Renoir.Clark ArtMy wife and I went to the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, MA. We’d surely been there at least a couple times before, though I don’t seem to have mentioned it in ye olde blogge.

The featured display was Renoir: The Body, The Senses. As the description notes: “From the late 1860s and early 1870s when he attempted to find fame at the Salon, through his Impressionist phase, and until his final years working steadfastly in the south of France, Renoir returned repeatedly, almost obsessively, to the subject of the body—clothed, certainly, but especially nude.”

And it wasn’t just his work, but that of his contemporaries such as Manet and Monet. While I wasn’t formally part of the tour, I listened in to one of the guides. She gave me a greater appreciation of the techniques used in the paintings, some of which are deteriorating somewhat. The display will be up until September 22.

We also viewed Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow. Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889–1961) had some talent. More interesting, though, were the relationships. Georgia actively discouraged the artistic ambitions of Ida and their sister Catherine. Catherine abided by Georgia’s wishes; Ida did not.

Earlier, Ida often visited Georgia and Georgia’s husband Alfred Stieglitz. He took several photos of Ida, and it is thought that Alfred had a non-reciprocated flirtation with his sister-in-law. Ida once noted that she too could have been more famous if she had “a Stieglitz,” someone to promote her. The Ida O’Keeffe show is up through October 14.

My friend David Brickman discussed both of these displays HERE.

Then we did what we had never done. We went on a tour of the original building from the 1950s with two young women as our guides, one who just graduated from Williams College, and the other an incoming junior. It is an eclectic mix that reflected the taste of art collector Robert Sterling Clark and his wife, Francine.

The docents noted that during the Cold War, the Clarks worried about the safety of their artworks. Anticipating a possible attack on New York City, where they lived, they started looking at sites in rural New York and Massachusetts in order to found a museum for their art in a less vulnerable location.

Admission to the Clark Art Institute is $20, but free to students and those under 18. Since we have a card that reflects a reciprocal arrangement with a library in Albany, the visit was free. Last time, I bought some books; maybe I will next trip as well.

The title of this piece is from a Wall Street Journal review.

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