News / Arts & Entertainment

Celebrated Art Returns to Museum Walls at Washington's Phillips Collection

Celebrated Art Returns to Museum Walls at Washington's Phillips Collectioni
X
Julie Taboh
March 11, 2014 2:34 PM
Following an acclaimed four-year world tour, more than 200 works by some of America’s finest artists are back at The Phillips Collection in Washington. VOA reporter Julie Taboh spoke with the exhibit curator about these special masterworks, and how they were assembled after World War II.
Celebrated Art Returns to Museum Walls at Washington's Phillips Collection
Following an acclaimed four-year world tour, more than 200 works by some of America’s finest artists are back on the walls of The Phillips Collection in Washington. The exhibit curator talks about these special masterworks, and reveals how the museum founder helped American art become a significant global force after World War II.
 
American Art

Red Sun by Arthur Dove. Egg Beater No. 4 by Stuart Davis and John Graham's Blue Still Life. These are just a few of the works of American art on display in a new exhibit called Made in the USA: American Masters from The Phillips Collection.  

The works by more than 100 American artists spanning over a century, from 1850 to about 1970, were collected by the museum's founder, Duncan Phillips, from the end of World War l to his death in 1966.

Portrait photo of Duncan Phillips, founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington. (Courtesy The Phillips Collection)Portrait photo of Duncan Phillips, founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington. (Courtesy The Phillips Collection)
x
Portrait photo of Duncan Phillips, founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington. (Courtesy The Phillips Collection)
Portrait photo of Duncan Phillips, founder of The Phillips Collection in Washington. (Courtesy The Phillips Collection)
Curator Susan Frank says one focus of the show is to highlight the fact that 80 percent of the works in the museum are by American artists, acquired by Phillips at a time when European artists were more in favor.

“He was determined,” said Frank, “that he would dedicate this museum to living American artists and lift up American art out of obscurity and give it the same presence that European works were given by his contemporary collectors and other museums.”
 
The exhibit is organized by theme, beginning in the late 19th century with work from artists like Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins and George Inness, who were considered heroes of American Modernism.

It ends with an extraordinary display of Post-War Abstract Expressionism by such artists as Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb and Bradley Walker Tomlin.
   
Art with heart

Frank said Phillips was often drawn to art that represented human emotion, as depicted in a series of cityscapes.

John Sloan’s Clown Making Up provides an intimate behind-the-scenes look that suggests a sense of isolation of modern life during the first decade of the 20th century. And Walt Kuhn’s Plumes depicts the sad expression of a showgirl, which evokes that same feeling of loneliness.

“Phillips was so predisposed to these universal ideas of finding humanity in these subjects and having a kind of personal engagement with the object and the subject and understanding that the artist brought something very personal to that painting,” said Frank.

“The same can be said for Edward Hopper’s Sunday that Phillips acquired in 1926,” added Frank; “This really extraordinary early work by Hopper of a single figure sitting on a lonely sidewalk, and Phillips understanding this tension between a beautiful composition and the loneliness of modern life that Hopper had captured.”

The sculpture "Hollow Egg" by Alexander Calder is on display at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)The sculpture "Hollow Egg" by Alexander Calder is on display at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
x
The sculpture "Hollow Egg" by Alexander Calder is on display at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
The sculpture "Hollow Egg" by Alexander Calder is on display at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Beyond acquisition

Duncan Phillips had an appreciation for these artists who were not being collected by other museums but who Phillips was eager to add to the museum’s collection, according to Frank.

Throughout his directorship, Phillips often developed a personal relationship with the artists whose work he collected.

That included a few pioneers of American impressionism such as Childe Hassam, Julian Alden Weir and Maurice Prendergast, among others.
 
Sometimes those relationships even extended to financial support.

“Most well-known of course is his engagement with the abstract American artist Arthur Dove,” Frank added, whose work Phillips discovered in the mid-1920s.
 
“At the end of Dove’s life,” she said,” just a few months before his death, he wrote a thank-you note to Duncan Phillips about that support, telling him that it had meant everything to him.”

The painting "Aspiration" by Augustus Vincent Tack is seen at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)The painting "Aspiration" by Augustus Vincent Tack is seen at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
x
The painting "Aspiration" by Augustus Vincent Tack is seen at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
The painting "Aspiration" by Augustus Vincent Tack is seen at The Phillips Collection, in Washington, D.C., March 2014. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Phillips also lent his support to many immigrant artists.
 
“Phillips always believed and championed American art as including all of the world because so many artists were immigrants who came here from being foreign-born, who brought their cultural aesthetics with them and synthesized them with their American experience and produced something that was unique," she said.

Japanese-born immigrant artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Maine Family, and Political Exiles by Peppino Mangravite, who is of Italian descent, are just a couple of examples in the exhibit that reflect the immigrant experience which Phillips was so drawn to.

“We are a country of immigrants,” Frank added, “and Phillips really embraced this idea very early on in the 1920s and ‘30s.

“He celebrated their approach to their American experience as being something that enriched us,” said Frank.
 
The museum is hoping that the exhibit will not only enrich, but excite people about the breadth and diversity of American art in the first half of the 20th century, and publicize the important role Phillips played in elevating American modern art to the same level as European masterworks of the time.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."