Electric Paris

May 14, 2016 - September 4, 2016

Dubbed the “City of Light” during the Enlightenment, Paris’s reputation for luminosity remained a key theme in the art and literature of the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries.  Electric Paris is the first exhibition to explore the ways in which artists depicted older oil and gas lamps and the newer electric lighting that emerged by the turn of the twentieth century.  Whether nostalgic renderings of gaslit boulevards, subtly evocative scenes of half shadow, or starkly illuminated dance halls, these works of art record the changing appearance of both interior and exterior spaces, and suggest the ways in which Parisians experienced the city as it transitioned from old to new technologies.

The show will feature some 50 to 60 works––paintings, prints, photographs, and drawings––by artists such as Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jean Béraud, James Tissot, Childe Hassam, Charles Courtney Curran, Alfred Maurer, and Maurice Prendergast, among others. 

On view during most of its run in conjunction with a complementary exhibition in the Science Gallery, Electric Paris will provide a focused understanding of the new lighting technologies, their visual properties, and their transformative impact on the visual and cultural landscape of the city.

This is an expanded version of an exhibition first organized by the Clark Art Institute, also curated by S. Hollis Clayson, in 2013.