Kenneth Clark: Life, Art and Civilisation
Thursday 13 October 2016
Blenheim Palace, The Marlborough RoomVenue
Art historian and former chairman of Sotheby’s James Stourton takes a look at the history of 20th-century art through the life of the brilliant polymath Kenneth Clark – director of the National Art Gallery, author, patron of the arts and writer and presenter of the acclaimed BBC television series, Civilisation.
Clark was the biggest figure in the arts in 20th-century Britain. He was a museum director, patron, television pioneer and counted among his friends the Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, John Betjeman, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and John Piper. His 1969 series, Civilisation, looking at the upheavals of the century, brought him global admiration. Stourton draws on a vast and previously unseen archive to paint a picture of the private man behind the formidable intellect. He describes his early interest in art at Oxford and at the Ashmolean Museum, his rise to become director of the National Gallery at the age of 29, his tortuous marriage and his wife’s alcoholism, and aspects of his own nature that he worked to hide.
Stourton spent 30 years at Sotheby’s after graduating as an art historian. He organised many famous sales before becoming chairman of Sotheby’s in 2007. He left in 2012 to pursue academic interests. He is author of several books, including Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting since 1945 and Great Houses of London.