Friday, December 29, 2006

An artistic legacy on display

Descendant of painter Calame visits Clark to attend exhibit
By Christopher Marcisz, Berkshire Eagle Staff

WILLIAMSTOWN — With just a few days to spare, Alain Buscalet made it yesterday to the Clark Art Institute to see the current show of Swiss landscape painting, which features the work of an artist his family knows well.
Buscalet, who came from Montreal with his wife and some friends, is the great-great-great-grandson of Alexandre Calame, who was the foremost Swiss landscape painter of his time and who died in 1864. The Clark show is the first major exhibit of his work in the United States.
Still in the family
Buscalet said Calame usually did several versions of many of his paintings, and many of them are still in the family at the Calame house near Geneva, where Buscalet's uncle still lives.
"It's very interesting to see the ones I've never seen before," he said.
Buscalet, who is a sculptor and designer, had heard from family in Switzerland about the show. They had learned about it from Asbjorn R. Lunde, the American collector who owns most of the works on display at the Clark.
Buscalet said much of Calame's paperwork and comments, including notes from clients and purchasers, also remain in the family.
Calame would make drawings in the field, around the Swiss mountains and valleys, and would make his finished paintings in the studio, where clients would dictate where to put the mountains, lakes and animals.
"Only his studies were his own mind," he said. "The others were composed by his clients."
Tour by curator
The group was shown around the exhibit by Clark senior curator Richard Rand, who said that the show has been a success.
"We weren't sure what the reaction to it would be because he's an unknown quantity," he said. "But the word of mouth has been great."
The show will be open through this Sunday.