Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alfred Stevens at The Clark Museum

Last weekend, when I was home, I went to see the collection of art at The Clark Museum up in Williamstown, MA (the town where Williams College is). The art was amazing, but one artist in particular really struck me. Alfred Stevens was an amazing Belgian painter from the mid 1800s. At first the paintings seemed like your typical portraits of beautiful women in beautiful dresses, but if you look closer there is something different about each woman. Some of them have a look of regret, some of loss, some of insecurity. Take a look at some of the ones I like the best.

The Blue Dress.
This dress is obviously gorgeous but you look closer and see so many things in this painting: the tiny footstool peaking out from under the dress, how in her haste, the woman has only taken off one glove to read this letter, and in person how beautiful and delicate that screen is behind her.

Pleasant Letter
Another painting of women reading a letter which was a popular subject of the time. I especially love the screen in the background and then the lacquer chest off to the left.

What a pretty pink dress. This painting is from a series that Stevens did called The Four Seasons. They are installed in a round shaped room in the Clark Museum which used to be a house.

Another beautiful woman from the series of four paintings. Such an elegant pose as we see this woman looking at herself in a similarly elegant full length mirror. I love the lighting in this painting too and the wall paper.

Hesitation? Why? I love how each of these have a narrative that makes you want to know more about the woman. What is her story? Doesn't she have everything? The colors in these paintings are also very beautiful. They don't come across as strongly in the Internet, which is a bummer. Anyway, the colors are brilliant and very deep. I'd love to have a door like that in my house someday.

I was also drawn (obviously) to the beautifully rendered interiors spaces. I was surprised that the artist took such care in this and I found out through some reading that his father was an interior designer(though other sources say that he was just an artist). No wonder I had such a strange fascination to this painter. If you're ever in the area, I would highly recommend going to the Clark Museum. Sterling and Francine Clark had such a grand and extensive collection of paintings.

Alicia B.


Robin said...

These are gorgeous. I see a field trip up to Williamstown in my future...

Designers' Brew said...

No way, you grew up in Williamstown? I went to Williams! (My friends who went to other universities don't understand why I get so excited when I meet another Williams person--people who haven't lived there don't understand what a small... small... SMALL town, and college, it is!) I LOVE the Clark. I was just reading somewhere the other day that they've put a new building up; apparently they're expanding the Clark campus quite a bit over the next few years. Beautiful paintings, I'm glad you posted them!

Alicia B. Designs said...

DB, So sorry to give that impression but i did NOT grow up in Williamstown. I grew up in a small town in CT, Farmington but my parents moved about 5 years ago. It is a SUPER small town though and I can totally relate as I went to college in upstate NY. The new building is not the greatest. I thought it was terrible--just another blocky modern building make of cement. I was pretty disappointed but apparently they're going to house the Japanese works of art there and its going to be beautiful. Open in the summer!

Designers' Brew said...

ugh, bummer about the new building... I'll be curious to see it!

Anonymous said...

"Hesitation" is at the Art Institute of Chicago. Whenever I visit, I always spend a lot time with that painting. I wish I could find a print of it.