AN AMERICAN IN VENICE; VENICE, TRACES
February 6-April 19, 2015
From February 6 to April 19, 2015, the LSU Museum of Art presents two paired exhibitions, An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy and Venice, Traces: The Art of Sandra Russell Clark. These paired exhibitions showcase the work of two American artists who worked in Venice over a century apart: famed nineteenth-century printmaker James McNeill Whistler and contemporary Louisiana photographer Sandra Russell Clark. Venice is a city that has long-captured the American imagination, and, in placing the work of these two artists side-by-side, the LSU Museum of Art explores Venice as a city long seen to possess a particularly resonant relationship to history, memory and past time.
An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy showcases the masterful etchings of American nineteenth-century artist and printmaker James McNeill Whistler. In 1879, Whistler arrived in Italy with a commission from the Fine Arts Society of London to create twelve etchings of Venice. Over the ensuing fourteen months, he produced a body of prints that are among the most important of his career. His etchings from this period portray Venice as a direct portal to the past, offering the city’s meandering canals and crumbling architecture as compelling points of contact with Europe’s past history. This exhibition places eleven of Whistler’s works alongside that of Whistler’s late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century followers like Mortimer Menpes and Joseph Pennell, who followed in Whistler’s footsteps to make their own prints of Venice’s Grand Canal, demonstrating the long reach of Whistler’s distinctive Venetian vision.
Whistler’s time-sensitive approach towards the city of Venice continues to inform the work of American artists working in the city today. InVenice, Traces: The Art of Sandra Russell Clark, the LSU Museum of Art explores contemporary Louisiana photographer Sandra Russell Clark’s meditations on Venice as a city with an especially evocative relationship to memory, history, and, in her case, loss. In 2005, Clark lost all of her photographic negatives and prints of Venice—the product of decades of work—during Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, Clark returned to Venice to retrace her steps and recapture these lost images of the city, as well as to reflect upon Venice’s unexpectedly resonant role in her own recent past. In Venice, Traces: The Art of Sandra Russell Clark, the LSU Museum of Art presents Clark’s photographic work from this recent return to Italy. The exhibition brings Clark’s powerful reflections on Venice–as well as the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina—to bear on the question of what a city like Venice might mean for a place like Louisiana today.
“These two exhibitions,” says LSU Museum of Art curator Dr. Katie Pfohl, “bring together the work of one of America’s most important and inventive nineteenth-century artists, James McNeill Whistler, with the recent photographic work of local Louisiana photographer, Sandra Russell Clark. So doing, they demonstrate the ways in which Whistler—an artist whose prints would seem to belong to the past—continues to shape the work of artists like Clark working in Louisiana today.”
An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and his Legacy is organized by the Syracuse University Traveling Exhibition Program, andVenice, Traces: The Art of Sandra Russell Clark is organized by the LSU Museum of Art and curated by Dr. Katie Pfohl.
An American in Venice: James McNeill Whistler and His Legacy was made possible through generous support from the Charles Lamar Family Foundation, Cary Saurage, Nadine Carter Russell, Taylor Clark Gallery, Sandy Arst, Fran and Leroy Harvey, Katherine and Paul Spaht, John G. Turner and Jerry G. Fischer, Jerad F. Gardemal, Susan Turner and Scott Purdin, Fireside Antiques, and The Old Print Shop.
Venice, Traces: The Art of Sandra Russell Clark was made possible through the generous support of Phelps Dunbar, LLP, Jordana Pomeroy and Edwin Penick, Anne Connelly Fine Art, and Fireside Antiques.
Image credit from left to right: James McBey, Venetian Nights, 1925, etching on laid paper,10 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches. Syracuse University Art Galleries; Sandra Russell Clark, Grand Canal, Venice, 2012. Collection of the Artist; James McNeill Whistler, Nocturne: Palaces, c. 1879-1880, etching and drypoint on laid paper, 11 ¾ x 8 inches. Syracuse University Art Galleries; Sandra Russell Clark, Canal, Venice, 2012. Collection of the Artist.