Lady In Red: Alex Katz, Brisk Day

Alex Katz_Brisk Day

(left) Alex Katz, Brisk Day, 1990. Woodcut, 36 in x 29 1/8 in. Gift of Fenner Milton, 2013. (middle) Alex Katz, Brisk Day, 1990. Aquatint, 35 3/8 in x 28 1/2 in. Gift of Fenner Milton, 2013 (right) Alex Katz, Brisk Day, 1990. Lithograph, 36 in x 29 in. Gift of Fenner Milton, 2013

These three portraits, recent acquisitions for the museum, are currently the only thing displayed in a small gallery at the Phillips. Take a moment to look at each one. What are the similarities? What are the differences?

It’s not until we look at the labels that we realize what creates the small nuances in color and line between the three works—each one is a different form of print. Artist Alex Katz is known for his arresting simplicity of line and form, bright, flat colors, and a powerful graphic punch that link them to commercial art and popular culture. By generalizing the features of a sitter or a landscape, and removing any expressive or emotional content, Katz focuses instead on formal properties of light, scale and color.

Examining Art and Activism

Anne Monahan will be giving a lecture about Faith Ringgold’s mural Die at The Phillips Collection Center for the Study of Modern Art on Thursday, September 11, at 6:30 pm.

Anne Monahan and Faith Ringgold's Die

(Left) Anne Monahan, 2014-15 Postdoctoral Fellow (Right) Faith Ringgold, Die, oil on canvas, 72 x 144 in. © Faith Ringgold

I first became interested in Faith Ringgold’s strategic marriage of art and activism in the 1960s—then an under-examined aspect of her project—while working on my dissertation. Just a couple of years ago, I was prompted to see her ambitious painting Die of 1967 with fresh eyes when a friend asked if it represented stages in a sequential narrative. That question prompted me to think more deeply about the painting’s formal and conceptual ambiguities and how they operated in the political, racial, and aesthetic discourses of its charged moment. As a result, Die and its reception figure in my book Radical/Chic: Race, Politics, and the Legacy of Social Realism in Art of the 1960s as a key example of the shifting dynamics by which racial politics influenced a politics of style.

—Anne Monahan, 2014-15 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Modern Art / The George Washington University

O’Keeffe and Friends

Okeeffe jack in pulpit series_IV and VI

(left) Georgia O’Keeffe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV, 1930. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe 1987.58.3 (right) Georgia O’Keeffe, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. VI, 1930. Oil on canvas, 36 x 18 in. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe 1987.58.5

While the National Gallery of Art‘s East Building galleries are closed for renovation, the Phillips is the (ecstatic!) temporary home to two works from Georgia O’Keeffe‘s Jack-in-the-Pulpit series. The series, a total of six canvases, was inspired by O’Keeffe’s close observations of the wildflower in the woods surrounding photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s family home in Lake George, New York. Looking at the images above without this information, what would you have thought these were paintings of? Now imagine encountering just the one on the right, Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. VI. Would you have guessed it was inspired by flora?

The loaned paintings will be on display starting this Thursday alongside other works by O’Keeffe from the Phillips’s own collection, as well as pieces from other members of the Stieglitz Circle including Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.