Follow by Email

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Phillips' masterworks all 'Made in the USA'

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Sunday, 1926, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

One of the biggest and best of any show I can recall at the Phillips is on display through August 31 which presents 125 artists, 120 years (1850-1970) and 200+ paintings that have just returned "home" from a four year "world tour" seen by 300,000 people.
Childe Hassam (1859-1935), Washington Arch, Spring, 1890, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  In 1966 Duncan Phillips donated one of his Childe Hassam's to an auction benefitting the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Duncan Phillips (1886-1966), the founder of the Phillips Collection, personally knew many of the artists whose pieces he selected for inclusion in his museum, many "on the verge" before their creations were recognized as the masterpieces they have become and which now hang on three floors in Made in the U.S.A.
Isabel Bishop (1902-1988), Lunch Counter, 1940, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Phillips insisted that his showcase, "America's first museum of modern art," become "a champion for America's own artists," and from its opening in 1921, its reputation and collection have grown to fulfill his dream, demonstrated by this stunning display. 

Guy Pene de Bois (1884-1958), The Arrivals, 1918 or early 1919, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Mixed in with the names of familiar artists in the array are lesser knowns, too: Doris Lee, Marjorie Acker Phillips, David Hare, and Morris Louis join Rockwell Kent, Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast, Georgia O'Keeffe, Max Weber, George Inness, Robert Henri,  Grandma Moses, Anne Goldthwaite, Robert Motherwell, and Sam Gilliam, to name some whose works hang in the show in chronological order according to 12 themes.
Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Miss Amelia Van Buren, c. 1891, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  Because of his insistence on working with nude models, Mr. Eakins was forced to resign from the Pennsylvania Academy.  The Art Institute of Chicago rejected Miss Amelia Van Buren because it was considered "too realistic" for the public.  When hearing this, Duncan Phillips rushed to acquire it from the owner, Amelia Van Buren.

It's the biggest presentation the Phillips has mounted in almost 40 years, well worth a visit(s) long before it closes.  You know how treacherous these big shows can be at the end, with everyone elbowing, pushing and blocking views.  (And please call for rescue should you want to stand back and have a look.)

Ben Shahn (1898-1969), Still Music, 1948, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

You may want to go on a day or evening of a related event.  (Please read below.*)

The exhibition has so much to see and think about, from jazz, to portraits, oblique, abstract, modern, realism, and maybe you are a romantic?

George Bellows (1882-1925), Emma at the Window, 1920, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  Between 1911 and 1924, Mr. Bellows painted 11 portraits of his wife, Emma.

Seeing the art may make you smarter, too. 

An article in last week's Wall Street Journal proves what many of us already know: "Our Brains Are Made for Enjoying Art."  The story describes research conducted by the University of Toronto which documents brain activity and the benefits humans obtain from viewing art.  So, in addition to practical enjoyment from viewing the paintings, you may be able to stave off Alzheimer's disease.  Which might be considered a brain stretch, but, why not?  Just another reason to go and take pleasure.
Seymour Lipton (1903-1986), Ancestor, 1958, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  Mr. Lipton originally trained as a dentist.  On the wall to the left of Ancestor is a portion of The Seer, 1950, by Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974), The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

An interactive program, "uCurate," is included in the show (and can be activated from your home by accessing the Phillips' website) which permits guests to design their own art galleries using three touch screens and pieces from the presentation.
Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981), Abstraction, 1940, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  This and another one by Mr. Bolotowsky, who was a native of St. Petersburg, Russia and a founding member of American Abstract Artists, were the first to enter a museum. 

I can't wait to get back to set my brain aglow all over again.  There, I think I have well said enough.  It is, indeed, difficult to contain my enthusiasm.  
Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Blue Cafe, 1928, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

A catalogue of almost 300 pages is available for purchase in the shop and online. Major sponsors are Altria and the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
Walt Kuhn (1877-1949), Plumes, 1931, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.  The first Kuhn solo show in Washington was at the Phillips.  Mr. Kuhn was a co-organizer of the 1913 Armory Show.
Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), Burial of a Young Man, c. 1908-11, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Duncan Phillips purchased this in 1918 amidst the tragedies of World War I and the death of his brother from influenza in the same year.
John Sloan (1871-1951), Clown Making Up, 1910, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. This is the first Sloan painting to enter a museum.

*Related tours, talks, performances, and musical events include: 

Sold out: June 26, 5:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. performance of the New York Idea by the Picnic Theatre Company (Fee.  Reservations required.)

June 26, 6 and 7 p.m. "Spotlight Tours" of the exhibition.  Included in exhibition admission price.

June 29, 11 a.m. Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, Wikimedia, D.C. Bring your laptop and become a writer about the show's artists for Wikipedia!  Free but registration is required.

Every Sunday at noon a tour of the exhibition with a docent (Included in the exhibition admission price.)

July 3, 5 - 8:30 p.m. Phillips After 5, "Happy Birthday America" with music by Charlie Sayles, Tony Fazio, and the Blues Disciples, gallery talks and make your own postcard art activities. Reservations highly recommended except for members who are always admitted without charge. (Fee for others.)

July 10, 6:30 p.m. Isadora Duncan Dance by the Word Dance Theatre (Fee. Reservations required.)

July 24, 6:30 p.m. Lecture by Elizabeth Hutton Turner, professor of modern art at the University of Virginia, "Reinventing Space:  Calder, Davis, and Graham." (Included in the exhibition admission price.  Free for members.)

July 31, 6:30 p.m. Vocal Colors:  A Musical Exploration of Visual Art with soprano Melinda Whittington and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Sproule of the Wolf Trap Opera Company  presented in collaboration with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (Fee. Reservations required.)

August 7, 5 - 8:30 p.m. Phillips After 5.  American Bounty.  Gallery talks and sample classic American cuisine "through a moveable feast of food trucks." (?  Call for more information and to make highly recommended reservations, 202-387-2151. Fee except for members, no charge.)

August 14, 6:30 p.m. Lecture by Sally Pemberton about her grandfather, Murdock Pemberton (1888 - 1982), the first art critic for the New Yorker who said Mr. Murdock "may be the most interesting person you've never heard of."  He wrote often about the development of American modernism, and Ms. Pemberton has written a book about him, Portrait of Murdock Pemberton.

August 14, 21, and 28, 6 and 7 p.m. "Spotlight Tours" of the exhibition.  Included in exhibition admission price.

What: Made in the U.S.A.: American Masters from the Phillips Collection, 1850 - 1970

When: Now through August 31, 2014. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays until 8:30 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Closed on July 4.

Where: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., N.W. at Q St., Washington, D.C. 20009

Tickets: $12, $10 for students and those over 62, free for members and for children 18 and under.

The Phillips is a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission for all active duty military personnel and their families through Labor Day.

Metro Station: Dupont Circle (Q Street exit. Turn left and walk one block.)

For more information: 202-387-2151

No comments: