WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- Since the 1970s, celebrated critic and art historian Leo Steinberg has stirred the art world with his insightful and controversial commentary. Known for his powerful observations and documentary scrutiny, Steinberg is an influential and respected maverick among his peers. Steinberg will present the lecture “Oh, Say, Can You See” on Wednesday, April 23, at 7 pm, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Admission is free. This lecture was originally scheduled for April 9.
In art, there exists resistance to seeing what is so clearly displayed. Suppose the question framed by the opening words of “The Star-Spangled Banner”-“Oh, say, can you see”-addressed consumers of art. Whether this art is modern, ancient, or Renaissance, surprisingly often the mute answer is “No, no we can’t see.” In his lecture, Steinberg will address this conundrum drawing on antiquity, modernism, and Michelangelo.
Born in Moscow in 1920, Steinberg spent his childhood in Berlin. He then moved to London, where he studied art at the Slade School, University of London. After World War II, he settled in New York City, working as a freelance writer, translator, and life-drawing instructor. He studied art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, taking his doctorate in 1960 with a dissertation on the Roman Baroque architect Francesco Borromini. Steinberg taught art history at the City University of New York (1962-75) and the University of Pennsylvania (1975-91). He has published and lectured widely on Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th-century art, including studies of Filippo Lippi, Mantegna, Michelangelo, Pontormo, Guercino, Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Velázquez, Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.
In May 1983, Steinberg became the first art historian to receive an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In February 1984, he won (for the second time) the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Criticism; in 1986, he became a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. During 1995-96, he delivered the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2002, he was honored by the College Art Association as that year’s Distinguished Scholar.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.