50 Years and Forward -Work on Paper

50 Years and Forward -Work on Paper When the Clark Art Institute opened in 1955, it had 500 drawings and 1,400 prints, totaling 1,900 works on paper. In the past fifty years, 4,000 works on paper have been added—more than double the museum’s founding gift—and acquisitions continue apace. While these numerical increases are important, they are only part of the story. What they fail to convey is the change in the collection’s character over time. With constant reappraisal over the decades, new dimensions have emerged, building upon Sterling and Francine Clark’s original vision.

50 Years and Forward: Works on Paper Acquisitions marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Manton Research Center—the home of the works on paper collection—with a selection of prints, drawings, and photographs acquired between 1973 and 2023. Featuring recent acquisitions and other works never shown here before, the exhibition starts from classic territories with which the Clark has long been closely identified—such as early modern drawings and nineteenth-century French art—and shows how those pockets of strength continued to grow in later decades. In a parallel development, the Institute initiated fresh collecting areas such as photography and Japanese prints. Such additions, while hewing to the same standards of quality and art-historical significance, have allowed the Clark to fill acknowledged gaps and raise its institutional profile.  

In this anniversary exhibition, we explore and celebrate the developments of the past fifty years. Along with familiar works by Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya, Édouard Manet, and Mary Cassatt, we highlight lesser-known areas of the collection, including early twentieth-century art, photographs by Berenice Abbott and Doris Ulmann, and important images of and by Black Americans. With each passing year and decade, the Clark reaffirms its commitment to the founders’ storied collecting mission, modifying and expanding it to meet the needs of a new era.

50 Years and Forward: Works on Paper Acquisitions is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.