Tuesday Tunes: A Playlist for Bradley Walker Tomlin

Taking inspiration from the major theme of music in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee, we paired 11 staff members with 11 works from the exhibition and asked them to respond to create a playlist in response to their individual artwork. Kelley Daley, Head of Public Programming, created her playlist in response to Bradley Walker Tomlin’s “Number 12–1949.”

Bradley Walker Tomlin, Number 12–1949, 1949, Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 31 1/4 in., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Abby and B. H. Friedman in honor of John I. H. Baur

When I first looked at Bradley Walker Tomlin’s Number 12, I was struck by the cheerful, spring-like, Nickelodeon-esque slime green in the background. It made me nostalgic, warm, and happy; however, after spending time with the painting, the dark shapes became more prominent and I felt sentimental and introspective. I noticed the drips on some of the shapes; the almost non-existent, left behind shapes and lines in the background; or the bright pop of color mixed in with the dark, bold shapes that didn’t make the painting seem so overwhelmingly sad. I was most inspired by the contradiction of bold black lines with the bright, hidden shapes in the background that created an oscillation between happiness, nostalgia, and sentimentality. From David Bowie to Childish Gambino, this playlist features tracks that have a pronounced, toe-tapping beat (inspired by the bold black shapes), that sometimes overshadows the sentimental tenderness in the lyrics or other instruments.

Kelley Daley, Head of Public Programming

Feeling inspired? Create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at communications@phillipscollection.org and we may feature it on our blog and social media.

When Pollock Embraced Spontaneity

All works: Jackson Pollock, Untitled, 1944/45 (printed 1967). Engraving and drypoint in blown-black on white Italia wove paper. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. (1) and (2) The William Stamps Farish Fund, 2009; (3) Gift of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc., 2009

In 1930, Jackson Pollock confessed to his brother his frustration that his drawing was “rotten; it seems to lack freedom and rhy[thm].” That changed dramatically in 1944, when Pollock spent several months at Atelier 17, the printmaking workshop where he practiced the Paul Klee-inspired automatic writing taught by Stanley William Hayter. Hayter’s Atelier 17 was a central meeting place for avantgarde artists such as Pollock, William Baziotes, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko.

These three works were printed from more than 10 plates that Pollock etched over several months at Hayter’s studio. Hayter, who had seen how the method of automatic drawing had invigorated French surrealist artists, saw the potential to convert more followers among the American abstract artists. He insisted that his acolytes etch directly into the zinc plates without any preparatory sketches and call upon their unconscious to generate line drawings. Hayter’s studio became a rite of passage for many Abstract Expressionists, although it had an especially profound impact on Pollock, who took from the experience an appreciation for spontaneous, nondescriptive line. The emphasis on the physical act of making art set the stage for Pollock’s breakthrough just a few years later to his drip paintings.

This work is on view in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee through May 6, 2018.

A Playlist for Gottlieb: Part II

Adolph Gottlieb, Labyrinth #1, 1950, Oil and sand on canvas, 36 x 48 in., Collection of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, New York © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Inspired by this playlist for Adolph Gottlieb’s Labyrinth #1 (1950), Executive Director of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Sanford Hirsch wrote in with his own musical interpretation. Of his selection, Hirsch says “Gottlieb didn’t have any music in his studio, but he did have a good collection of records at home. Using those as a starting point, here are a few selections from around the same time as Labyrinth was painted and from musicians Gottlieb listened to. And since Gottlieb was dedicated to abstraction, titles don’t add or detract from meaning.”

If you’re feeling similarly inspired, you can create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at communications@phillipscollection.org; we may feature it on our blog and social media.