"In Black and White: Landscape Prints by Claire Van Vliet" Opens

Curator Ruth Fine from the National Gallery of Art will present a lecture for an exhibition of work by nationally renowned printmaker Claire Van Vliet at the Bates College Museum of Art Friday, Jan. 22. Fine’s lecture, Ordered Expressionism: Claire Van Vliet’s Landscape, will be given at 7 p.m. in Room 104 of the college’s Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St. A reception follows the lecture, which is open to the public without charge. The exhibition, In Black and White: Landscape Prints by Claire Van Vliet, features more than 30 lithographs, etchings and engravings, depicting landscapes from around the world.

Van Vliet is a distinguished recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and, as the owner and founder of the Janus Press, is widely known as a leading force in the production of artists’ books. This exhibition, curated by Genetta McLean, director of the Bates College Museum of Art, is drawn extensively from the Bates College Museum of Art’s collection and provides the first opportunity to see a retrospective survey of Van Vliet’s black and white landscape prints.

Throughout her career, Van Vliet has been fascinated by landscapes shaped by powerful geological forces that feature major rock formations. She particularly favors regions in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where boulders stand isolated against the sky.

“I am attracted to places where the land and rocks are bare either because of extreme dryness or because they are coastal,” Van Vliet said. “In New Zealand the beaches have unusual formations because it is a complex young land geologically with active volcanoes and plates sliding in opposite directions.”

Places closer to home are also represented in a new body of work– six lithographs that convey the silent eeriness of the area around Van Vliet’s home near Wheeler Mountain in northern Vermont.

Van Vliet was born in Ottawa, Canada, and was influenced by early 20th century Canadian landscape painters called the Group of Seven.

“As schoolchildren,” Van Vliet recalls, “we were very aware of these painters, so it meant that one could live in the wilds and also be an artist. I think that was very important; that art could be made in Canada in the 20th century and wasn’t just something European and historical.”

In Black and White: Landscape Prints by Claire Van Vliet will be on display from Jan. 15 through March 19 and is funded by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund and Champion Glass, Lewiston, Maine.

Regular hours at the Bates College Museum of Art are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Guided tours for schools and other groups are welcome. Call 207-786-6158 for more information.

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