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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.