The Phillips Collects: Renee Stout

(Left) Renée Stout, Elegba (Spirit of the Crossroads), 2015 - 2019, mixed media, 39” x 17” x 13”  (Upper right) Renée Stout, Mannish Boy Arrives (for Muddy Waters), 2017, acrylic and latex on wood panel, 16” x 20” x 1.5”  (Lower right) Renée Stout, Escape Plan A, 2017, acrylic, varnish, and collage on wood panel, 10” x 10” x 1.5”

(Left) Renée Stout, Elegba (Spirit of the Crossroads), 2015 – 2019, mixed media, 39” x 17” x 13”
(Upper right) Renée Stout, Mannish Boy Arrives (for Muddy Waters), 2017, acrylic and latex on wood panel, 16” x 20” x 1.5”
(Lower right) Renée Stout, Escape Plan A, 2017, acrylic, varnish, and collage on wood panel, 10” x 10” x 1.5”

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce The Phillips Collection’s significant acquisition of three works by Renée Stout. This 3-part acquisition, a “Unit” in Duncan Phillips terms, is made possible through the Director’s discretionary fund and a gift of the artist and Hemphill Fine Arts.

“Best known for engaging the African American heritage, but also her personal history, Renee Stout is a visual storyteller par excellence,” said Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Phillips Collection, Vesela Stretenovic. “There is a lot of magic and ancestry spirits in her work, embodying self-expression and self-empowerment. As The Phillips Collection approaches its centennial in 2021, the recent acquisition of three works by this highly admired DC-based artist, marks a significant moment in the museum collecting staying true to its founder Duncan Phillips’s approach of acquiring an artist’s work in units.”

Renée Stout is a recipient of the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award (2018), Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize (2012), David C. Driskell Prize (2010), a Joan Mitchell Award (2005), The Pollock Krasner Foundation Award (1991 & 1999), the Anonymous Was a Woman Award (1999), and The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1993). Her work is included in such collections as The Africa Museum, Berg en Dal, Netherlands, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, The San Francisco Museum of Fine Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, among others. Stout was the subject of the traveling exhibition “Tales of the Conjure Woman,” originating at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in 2013, a solo exhibition, “Funk Dreamscapes from the Invisible Parallel Universe” at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI in 2018 and “Church of the Crossroads: Renée Stout in the Belger Collection” at the Belger Center in Kansas City, MO in 2018.

The Phillips Collects: Simone Leigh

Simone Leigh, No Face (Crown Heights), 2018

Simone Leigh, No Face (Crown Heights), 2018, Terracotta, graphite ink, salt-fired porcelain, epoxy, 20 x 8 x 8 in., The Phillips Collection, Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2018

Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago) creates exquisitely crafted ceramic sculptures informed by her ongoing exploration of black female subjectivity and ethnography. Through ceramics, Leigh references vernacular visual traditions from the Caribbean, the American South, and the African continent, as well as the black diasporic experience dating from the Middle Passage to the present. Vessels, cowrie shells, and busts are reoccurring forms, each making symbolic reference to the black body.

The faceless bust of No Face (Crown Heights) is encircled by a rosette featuring dozens of tiny, handcrafted ceramic roses. Leigh thinks of her sculptures as performative in the sense that she is “performing” the work of anonymous African potters (often women). The hollowness of the works is not meant to impart emptiness or anonymity, but rather the loss of authorship associated with African ceramics.

Leigh is the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Hugo Boss Prize.Her work is the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Perez Art Museum, Miami; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, among others.

“I am so pleased to embrace this subtle and thought-provoking work by Simone Leigh for The Phillips Collection. The personal, hand-made quality of this mysterious object engages us with surprising intensity. I’m particularly glad that we continue to add to the number of women artists represented in the collection.” —Vradenburg Director and CEO Dorothy Kosinski

Horace Pippin’s “Domino Players”

Horace Pippin "Domino Players" 1943, Oil on composition board, 12 3/4 x 22 in.; Acquired 1943

Horace Pippin, Domino Players, 1943, Oil on composition board, 12 3/4 x 22 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1943

Horace Pippin, a self-taught African American painter, was born February 22, 1888 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. At the age of three Pippin moved with his family to Goshen, New York, where he attended a segregated one-room school. When he was ten years old, he answered a magazine advertisement and received a box of crayons, paint, and two brushes in the mail. Later moving to Paterson, New Jersey and then enlisting in the army, Pippin spent a few years working and serving in the First World War. He was seriously wounded in the war and was left with a crippled right arm. He returned to West Chester, was married, and by 1931 produced a painting about the war which provided him with a therapeutic outlet for his experiences and became the catalyst for his career.

In the 1943 painting Domino Players, Pippin captured the mood of long quiet hours of childhood Sundays. The painting stands out for its emphasis of the family group, whose members loom larger and appear more united and intimate than in any other Pippin interior. The painting was first shown at The Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, where it won first prize. Shortly after acquiring the painting, Duncan Phillips wrote to Edith Halpert of the Downtown Gallery in New York: “The (purchase of the) Pippin Domino Players is certainly no mistake and in this case the wisdom of my immediate decision was confirmed on receipt of the picture.”