T. J. Clark (historian)

T. J. Clark (historian)

Timothy James Clark (often "T.J. Clark") was born in 1943 in Bristol, England.

He first acquired fame as a Marxist art historian. He holds the George C. and Helen N. Pardee Chair as Professor of Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley. Clark is currently concerned with examining a particular type of pictorial thought, involving notions of human uprightness and the ground plane, which runs throughout the history of painting and which he has termed "ground level painting." The artists Nicolas Poussin, Pieter Bruegel, and Paolo Veronese figure prominently in his work on the subject.

Clark was educated at Winchester College and Bristol Grammar School, before entering St. John's College, Cambridge University, where he graduated with first class distinction in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London in 1973. He lectured at the University of Essex 1967-1969 and then at Camberwell School of Art as a senior lecturer, 1970-1974. During this time he was also a member of the British Section of the Situationist International, from which he was expelled along with the other members of the English section. He was also involved in the group King Mob.

In 1973 he published two books based on his Ph.D. dissertation which launched his international career as an art historian. ' and ' were received as manifestos of the new art history in the English language. In 1974, his visiting professor position at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) turned into an associate professor rank. Clark returned to Britain and Leeds University to be chair of the Fine Art Department in 1976. In 1980 Clark joined the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University, setting off a furor among many traditional and connoisseurship-based faculty. Chief among his Harvard detractors was the Renaissance art historian Sydney Freedberg, with whom he had a public feud. In 1988 he joined the faculty at UC-Berkeley.

In the early 1980s, he wrote an essay, "Clement Greenberg's Theory of Art," critical of prevailing Modernist theory, which prompted a notable and pointed exchange with Michael Fried. This exchange defined the debate between Modernist theory and the social history of art. Since that time, a mutually respectful and productive exchange of ideas between Clark and Fried has developed.

Clark's works have provided a new form of art history that take a new direction from traditional preoccupations with style and iconography. His books regard modern paintings as striving to articulate the social and political conditions of modern life.

Clark received an honorary degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2006.


* "Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution" (1973)
* "The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848-1851" (1973)
* "The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers" (1985)
* "Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism" (1999)
* "Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War" (2005), (a book jointly written with UC Berkeley Geography Professor Michael Watts and two independent San Francisco Bay Area writers, Iain Boal and Joseph Matthews.
* "The Sight of Death: An Experiment in Art Writing" (on two works by Nicolas Poussin, [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300117264 (2006)] )

External links

* [http://www.revoltagainstplenty.com/archive/local/kingmob.html A Hidden King Mob] contains a critical section on Clark's role in King Mob, and his personality and trajectory, viewed as those of a lifelong bourgeois snob.
* [http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2006/02/01_clarkmellon.shtml Timothy J. Clark, noted art historian, awarded Mellon Foundation grant]
* [http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/clarkt.htm Dictionary of Art Historians entry from which part of the entry was derived]

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