Conversations with Matisse


(1) Carol Brown Goldberg, Maggie on My Mind, 2015 (2) Matisse, Henri, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948, Oil on canvas Framed: 48 5/8 in x 38 1/4 in x 2 in; 123.52 cm x 97.15 cm x 2 in; 45 3/4 x 35 1/8 in.; 116.205 x 89.2175 cm.. Acquired 1950; © 2015 Succession H. Matisse/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

How does one converse with a piece of art? Can it talk back? What does it have to say? These are the questions at the heart of The Phillips Collection’s One-on-One series, which engages artists to select a work from the museum’s permanent collection and juxtapose it with works of their own. DC-based artist Carol Brown Goldberg uses Henri Matisse’s Interior with Egyptian Curtain as a source of inspiration for her current body of work. But how does one go about creating a conversation between your own work and that of a master like Matisse? She states of this exhibition, “Matisse’s Interior with Egyptian Curtain encompasses the world of the sublime, the ecstatic—an almost supernatural world of color, competition, and pattern. It is not just a world of pleasure, but one that allows tension and harmony to exist simultaneously. This ambiguity of forces, perhaps a reflection of our internal world, is an inspiration for endless gardens.” So how exactly does she respond to this idea in visual terms?

It is rare that a work by Matisse is described as restrained or limited, but this is how it appears in comparison to Goldberg’s works as she expands upon the idea of Matisse as creator of a world of pattern and color. Interior with Egyptian Curtain sets the stage with the establishment of a color palette and loose, expressionistic forms. Matisse’s window gives the viewer just a glimpse of the world outside, a world of lush greenery and exoticism. It beckons, almost drags the viewer in to see more of this wild and free space, and this is where Goldberg takes over. She takes Matisse’s cue, and explodes his tease into a world where intense color and expression reign supreme. The colors are bold and match the wild, swirling forms that spread beyond the edges of the canvas, enveloping the viewer and pulling us further and further into this “supernatural world of color, competition, and pattern.” Goldberg seems to create the world that Matisse alludes to and envisions, a world in which anything and everything goes.

Allyson Hitte, Marketing & Communications Intern

Purr-fect Portraits

Clockwise from top left: Ellie B. from CA; Sarah K. from MA; Anna; Joe Walsky from DC; and Tracey from VT.

Clockwise from top left: Ellie B. from CA; Sarah K. from MA; Anna; Joe Walsky from DC; and Tracey from VT.

Visitors to our portrait-making station in the American Moments exhibition have not just been capturing human likenesses. These submissions featured a number of animals. Here are a few that we think are doggone terrific!

American Moments Photo Contest Honorable Mentions

Last week, we announced the grand prize winner of the American Moments photo contest. Put your hands together for our five Honorable Mentions! These submissions caught the attention of our judges for their thoughtful captions and artful composition. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Honorable Mention_Chuck Flether_DC Street Hoops

Photo: Chuck Fletcher

DC Street Hoops by Chuck Fletcher
This American Moment was taken on U Street in Washington DC, the city’s cultural epicenter of black history. Until the 1920s, the U Street Corridor was home to the nation’s largest urban African American community. During the 1920s and 1930s, the area thrived with world-renowned entertainment venues like the Howard and Lincoln Theaters and private clubs hosting legendary entertainers including the neighborhood’s own Edward “Duke” Ellington. In 1968, the neighborhood declined after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the resulting DC riots. Today, we see a diverse blend of nationalities, talent, and skin tones on U Street.

Honorable Mention_Andrew Nathan Morgan_Nathan

Photo: Andrew Nathan Morgan

Nathan by Andrew Nathan Morgan
Picture I took of my son on his first trip to NYC. He’s looking over the city from the top of the Empire State building. We took a train from DC and spent the day walking around, seeing as much as we could before catching the train back.

Honorable Mention_Ann McCormick Saybolt_Fourth of July

Photo: Ann McCormick Saybolt

Fourth of July by Ann McCormick Saybolt
Annual parade in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, DC. Americans were warned by federal homeland security officials to “remain vigilant” during holiday celebrations due to a heightened security alert. July 4, 2015.

Honorable Mention_Lou Havlicek_Mom_2016_06–29

Photo: Lou Havlicek

Mom_2016_06–29 by Lou Havlicek
So many baby boomers are dealing with aging parents today. Though there is profound beauty in death—just as in birth—this does not make the road leading towards it any less hard. I took this image of my mother as she enters her final days. Our family is so grateful to my sister who has both the burden and privilege of caring for her. There is no tougher job. The rest of us help as we can, but negotiating the maze of the American healthcare system makes an already difficult time even more so.

Honorable Mention_Jere Kittle_A November Fog

Photo: Jere Kittle

A November Fog by Jere Kittle
Dense fog minimizes details, revealing the bold dynamic between a pair of bridges—one suspended beneath the other—and reflects the contrast in lifestyle and pace between the decades that separate them. The upper bridge carries vehicular traffic along historic U.S. Route 1; the lower, suspended by cables, provides pedestrian access to Belle Isle, a 540-acre natural area in the James River in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. Two figures cross over river rapids below for a morning walk on the island where forested trails and rock formations offer respite from 21st century urban life.