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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
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

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."