The Berkshires Blog

Electric Paris Sparkles at the Clark

Imagine it’s the turn of the 20th century in Paris.  The Eiffel Tower is a wonderful new addition to the city’s skyline, the boulevards are aglow with electric lights, and some films even have sound! The newest exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute  brings the glamorous era to life in a new exhibition, Electric Paris, that is on view at the from February 17 through April 21.

The vibrancy of life in Paris around 1900 is captured in the first exhibition to explore how artists depicted the changing appearance of interior and exterior spaces as the city transitioned from oil lamps to gas and electric lights, and how Parisians experienced these illuminated spaces. Drawn primarily from the Clark’s collection, the exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs from high art and popular culture, including works by Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, and others.

While Paris’s nickname, “The City of Light,” first arose in the eighteenth century when Enlightenment philosophers made Paris a center of ideas and metaphorical illumination, the moniker’s significance was later extended to create an association with the blaze of lights that had begun to illuminate the streets and boulevards of the French capital. In the 1840s Paris was one of the first cities to experiment with electric street lighting, and by the 1880s electricity began to illuminate high-profile boulevards, securing the city’s reputation as “The City of Light.”

The Clark’s exhibition beckons you to enjoy the beauty of Paris during a time in which its splendor was becoming even further enhanced by light. Brighten up the winter by making a visit to the Clark to see Electric Paris!

There are many other great museums in the Berkshires so after you visit the Clark be sure to add a few of these other venues to your itinerary. For a complete list click here.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street, Williamstown, Massachusetts and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10-5.