March 16, 2001 Former Amon Carter Museum Curator to Present 15th Anne Burnett Tandy Lecture in American Civilization
Exotic Comfort: Charles Deas and 1840s America at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden Lecture Hall on Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public
Fort Worth, TX, March 16, 2001—Charles Deas (1818–1867), whose expressive images of Indians and frontier types engaged 19th-century audiences and still demonstrate his extraordinary ability as a painter, will be the subject of the Amon Carter Museum's 15th Anne Burnett Tandy Lecture in American Civilization. The lecture, free and open to the public, will be held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden in the Dorothea Leonhardt Lecture Hall, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
This year's lecturer, Carol Clark, was the Amon Carter Museum curator of paintings from 1977 to 1984 and is now professor of fine arts and American studies at Amherst College. Through her research, Clark has added significantly to the known body of Deas' work. In 1987, when Professor Clark published her first study of Deas' art, only 28 of his works were known. Today, 40 paintings, drawings and watercolors by Deas have been identified-a solid testament to Clark's efforts.
Although several of his canvases stand today as icons of American art, Deas himself remains somewhat obscure. In the 1840s, he moved from New York to the western border town of St. Louis, where he devoted himself to the representation of Native Americans, voyageurs and mountain men. These paintings addressed the fate of the Indian, the mixing of cultures, and the nature of individual responsibility and heroism, all issues that defined that crucial decade. The Amon Carter Museum holds two of his works: a painting, A Group of Sioux (1845), and a lithograph, Western Life—The Trapper (ca. 1855).
"In the 1840s, Charles Deas exhibited crowd-pleasing pictures—pictures that continue to compel audiences today with their quiet but powerful evocation of cultural confrontation," Clark says. "In my lecture, I hope to explore some of the ideas these paintings embody and to give shape to a career that has only begun to emerge."
Clark is currently at work organizing the first monographic exhibition of Deas' work. Entitled Pictures of Wild Border Life: Charles Deas and 1840s America, the show will open at the Amon Carter Museum in the summer of 2003 and eventually travel to two additional venues.
This year's Tandy lecture comes at an especially exciting time in the history of the Amon Carter Museum. On Oct. 21, the museum will reopen following a two-year, $39 million expansion that will triple the exhibition space, allowing four times the number of artworks to be on view than was possible before. In addition to the beautiful new galleries, the building will also enjoy greatly expanded facilities for research, education and other programs.
Made possible by a generous endowment from the late Anne Burnett Tandy (1900–1980), this lecture series is devoted to topics on American art, culture and society. Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public.
About Professor Carol Clark
From 1977 to 1984, Clark was curator of paintings at the Amon Carter Museum. Among the exhibitions she organized there was one in 1980 devoted to Thomas Moran's watercolors of the American West. From 1984 to 1987, she was Maurice and Charles Prendergast Executive Fellow at Williams College, where she was one of three principal authors of the Prendergast catalogue raisonné, published by Prestel-Verlag in 1990. Her catalogue of American drawings and watercolors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Robert Lehman Collection was published in 1992.
Professor Clark holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in the history of art from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in art history from Case Western Reserve University. At Case she was a Kress Foundation Fellow jointly with the Cleveland Museum of Art.
While at Williams, Clark taught in the graduate program in art history. Since 1987, she has been on the faculty at Amherst College, where she is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Fine Arts and American Studies. She currently serves as chair of the fine arts department.
In addition to her work on the career of artist Charles Deas, Carol Clark is researching another subject that explores the impact of travel on artists. The project centers on Maurice Prendergast's two extended stays in Italy at the turn of the century. Clark looks at the particular kinds of tourist experiences Prendergast presented to American viewers in the watercolors he painted in Venice. She explores how these images of public life abroad defined Americans' attitudes toward their own burgeoning cities.