“Look on the model with respect…”

Henri Matisse, Untitled (Seated Nude), ca. 1908

Matisse on models: “I depend entirely on my model, who I observe at liberty, and then I decide on the pose which best suits her nature…. And then I become a slave of that pose.” Henri Matisse, Untitled (Seated Nude), ca. 1908. Ink on paper, 10 5/8 x 8 1/4 in. Gift of Marjorie Phillips, 1984. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.

Proving that no occupation is un-strikeable, nude models in France are threatening a strike for better wages and job benefits. Despite the many languid figurative works that may imply that nude modeling is nothing more than draping one’s body over a chaise, even those sessions can be plenty challenging. John Sloan, in his treatise Gist of Art (1939), offers this insight into the artist/model exchange:

The important thing to bear in mind while drawing the figure is that the model is a human being, that it is alive, that it exists there on the stand. Look on the model with respect, appreciate his or her humanity. Be very humble before that human being. Be filled with wonder at its reality and life. There is a human creature that lives and breathes and feels, a thing with a mind and character of its own—not a patchwork of light and shadow, color shapes.

Sometimes when I come into the classroom I look at the model and see that she is shivering with cold or suffering in some difficult post she is trying to hold too long. You look up at her and back at the paper, tick-tock, back and forth—all you are looking for is some detail of the appearance of the figure.

They Came, They Saw, They Edited

Volunteers working in the library. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

Volunteers working in the library. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

On Sunday, about fifteen volunteers came to the Phillips Library to help create and expand Wikipedia articles related to American artists both in our Made in the U.S.A. exhibition and the rest of our permanent collection. It was a great day of work; many articles were improved and others created from scratch. The spirit behind Wikipedia aligns with our museum’s mission statement—a dynamic environment for collaboration, innovation, engagement with the world, scholarship, and new forms of public participation—and this was all evident here on Sunday in abundance.  Many thanks to Wikimedia DC members for being so generous with their experience and enthusiasm.

Happy Birthday Duncan Phillips, from Korea

In the spring and summer of 1910, Duncan Phillips traveled with his family to Korea as part of a long journey to Asia and the northwestern United States. Phillips’s father, Major Duncan Clinch Phillips, said in his journal that the family stayed at the Sontag Hotel, a hotel catering to Western visitors.

Sontag Hotel in Seoul, Korea, in 1910, the year the Phillipses stayed there.

On this 128th anniversary of Phillips’s birth, some of the most impressive examples of his art collecting are going on display at the Daejeon Museum of Art in central Korea. A team of curators (Sue Frank and Renée Maurer), registrars (Joe Holbach and Trish Waters), and one of our preparators (Bill Koberg) flew around the globe last week to oversee the effort of installing this large traveling show.

Banners featuring our Degas and Ingres, among others and the exterior of the Daejon Museum of Art. Photos: Renee Maurer

Banners featuring our Daumier, Degas and Ingres line the museum grounds and the exterior of the Daejon Museum of Art features a mural of familiar faces. Photos: Renée Maurer

Renée , Bill, and Joe went to Seoul in the days before installation started. They visited the summer palace with its ornately carved and painted structures and throne (left) and watched the changing of the guard (far right). Their interpreter took them for an eel dinner (center right). Photos: Bill Koberg, Renée Maurer

During their down time, assistant curator Renée Maurer, chief registrar and director of special initiatives Joe Holbach, and installations manager Bill Koberg have done some sightseeing around Daejeon and north in the capital Seoul.