Your American Moments

We kicked off an American Moments photo contest last week and are so impressed with the quality and range of images you’ve sent in that we had to share a few here on the blog. Submit yours by July 21 for a chance to win a Leica D-Lux (Type 109) camera, Phillips membership, and more.

Texas Special_Isabella Achenbach

Photo: Isabella Achenbach

Texas Special by Isabella Achenbach
This 35mm film photograph captures a middle aged man working one of the games booths at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas in October, 2014. The man’s energy (and lung capacity) was a site to behold, even amongst the crowds of people eating fried twinkies and turkey legs. The State Fair of Texas brought kids with face paint, angsty teenagers, parents with full hands, and grandparents with matching Dallas Cowboys football t-shirts together in one place. The fair has taken place every year since 1886, and while I believe this photograph is timelessly American, it is still rooted in the contemporary American lifestyle. In keeping with The Phillips Collection’s commitment to contemporary photography, but also acknowledging the photographs exhibited in American Moments, I selected a documentary-style photograph that is vibrantly colorful but still shot on film and hand developed.

What I dont know_Luca Bartolini

Photo: Luca Bartolini

What I Don’t Know by Luca Bartolini
People have always been on the move in America. The means of transportation have changed, but our faces have not. On the metro people are in a limbo, where their thoughts become fluid and blend with the background noise. Their anger and despair is only perceived by the tiny contractures of their facial muscles. Like in Bruce Davidson’s Sitting in the Back of the Bus, people keep going, maybe not knowing where, but just knowing that they are alive.

Snow Sands_Juan Riveros

Photo: Juan Riveros

Snow Sands by Juan Riveros
Gypsum dunes covered with fresh snow in White Sands, Tularosa Basin, New Mexico. The Southwest scenery is uniquely American, a space of extraordinary light, infinite textures, unlimited spaces and abstraction.

Bridget on the roof_joe flood

Photo: Joe Flood

Bridget on the Roof by Joe Flood
In the once-blighted Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, a woman looks out on a landscape now filled with new apartment buildings and condos.

ArtGrams: Appreciating Morris Louis

Seal Morris Louis_2__samjang_

Via Instagrammer @_samjang_ #MorrisLouis #DC

This month’s ArtGrams features Morris Louis’s large-scale painting Seal (1959). Louis, founding member of the Washington Color School, spent years working in Washington, DC. He drew inspiration from artists in The Phillips Collection including Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Arthur Dove, Mark Rothko, and Augustus Vincent Tack. Related to his Veil series, Seal was one of the first paintings by Louis to be acquired by a museum. Here are some of our favorite interactions with the work snapped by Instagrammers.

Seal Morris Louis_5_jonathanaustinart

Instagrammer @jonathanaustinart: “Checking out the masterpieces at The Phillips Collection. Best way to start my weekend. Morris Louis’s paintings.”

Seal Morris Louis_4_rareformproperties

We see some Louis reflections in this scarf! Shot by @rareformproperties.

Seal Morris Louis_6_belleauroradesigns

Thanks, @belleauroradesigns! “Love the @phillipscollection”

Seal Morris Louis_3_dannythimm

Black top / black jeans / black paint. Photo by @dannythimm

Seal Morris Louis_1_willballantynereid

Cropping just the corner and putting a tinted filter over Louis’s vibrant colors casts “Seal” in a new light. Photo by @willballantynereid

 

Deconstructing Lawrence’s Struggle Series: Panel 13

This spring, former Phillips curator Beth Turner taught an undergraduate practicum at the University of Virginia focusing on Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series. In this multi-part blog series, responses from Turner’s students in reference to individual works from the series will be posted each week.

Struggle_Panel 13

Jacob Lawrence, Struggle … From the History of the American People, no. 13: Victory and Defeat, 1955. Egg tempera on hardboard, 16 x 12 in. Private Collection of Harvey and Harvey-Ann Ross. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This panel depicts the surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown, a battle which is remembered as the last major engagement of the American Revolution, effectively ending the conflict with a resounding American victory.

Unlike the more eventful scenes in the Struggle series, which depict violent interactions between people, this panel is one in which Lawrence omits figures. It is in these select panels that chaotic masses of bodies, violent interactions, and scenes of death are exchanged by a peaceful encounter between the hands of Victory and Defeat. Defeat, dressed in the British red coat, is situated above the outstretched hand of Victory which extends from a long black cloak. Victory beckons out to Defeat to relinquish its sword amidst a primarily blackened and flat background of piled cannon balls, an exchange that is ultimately respectable and diplomatic.

Although moments of violence often stand out in history, here Lawrence emphasizes the impact of the simple exchange between opposing hands through his simplistic style. While traditional depictions of Yorktown show the American general towering over the British general, here the hands are on an almost equal plane, suggesting that the violence has ended. Yet the subtle gap between Victory and Defeat also suggests a moment of tension as Defeat realizes his vision has come to an end.

Maureen O’Connor