Don’t Miss Van Gogh Show at The Clark

The blockbuster show in New England this summer is not at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. No, you’ll have to travel to the northwestern corner of Massachusetts to Williamstown to find the Clark Art Institute. On view until September 13th is “Van Gogh and Nature,” fifty paintings and drawings by Van Gogh from over thirty museums and private collections. We stopped at the Clark yesterday, on the way back from dropping our son off at Cornell, and, wow, was it worth the slight detour. The works from the last 3 years of his life, in Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers, are spectacularly vibrant. There are wonderful pairings of sketches and oils, like two depictions of olive trees hung side-by-side. I also liked how the curator used maps to show exactly where in France these towns are located and provided large photographs to see how they would look during Van Gogh’s time. 

Inspired by Van Gogh’s work, you can take you own walk through glorious nature. Stroll through the Clark’s meadows atop Stone Hill for a wonderful vista of Mount Greylock and the town of Williamstown below. Take a breather on the bench inside Thomas Schütte’s “Crystal,” an open-sided architectural piece newly planted on the grounds. You know it’s just been built because it smells like fresh wood. Then make your way down to the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, also on the Clark property to find another gem of an exhibition devoted to “Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother),” otherwise known as Whistler’s Mother. Two small galleries of Whistler’s prints and drawings accompany the famous work. One glance at any of these works to see the mast of a ship, portrait of a niece, or buildings so small you’ll need a magnifying glass to find, and you’ll quickly appreciate Whistler’s immense talent. The Whistler show will be on view until September 27th, so make the effort to get here soon. You’ll thank me!