Women’s History Month: Hear Her Roar

Mitchell_August Rue Duguerre

Joan Mitchell, August, Rue Daguerre, 1957. Oil on canvas, 82 x 69 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1958; © Estate of Joan Mitchell

March may be coming to an end, but we are surely not ready to finish celebrating Women’s History Month just yet. Women artists have helped to propel contemporary art into the rich field it is today, so I thought it only right to dedicate this post to one of the female artists I find most fascinating from the Phillips’s permanent collection—Joan Mitchell (1925-1992).

Joan Mitchell, born in Chicago, was an essential member of the American Abstract Expressionist movement and an all around fierce character. Sitting pretty in the galleries is Joan Mitchell’s August, Rue Daguerre (1957), an energetic oil on canvas painting, which was inspired by a bustling Paris street. This work, with its rather violent brush strokes and rich colors, is representative of Joan’s work as she was inspired by lively friends (fellow artists de Kooning and Kline) and the cities she traveled between most, New York City and Paris. Having lived in a number of locations, Joan’s abstract paintings expressed her environment and her reaction to them.

I adore how in looking at this painting, one can begin to visualize what Joan was seeing both in her surroundings and how they affected her own psyche. The various shades of brown and black on the canvas could be illustrative of the statuesque Parisian architecture, but also might signify how Joan feels content and rooted in Paris. Perhaps the interspersed strokes of bright, yet subdued reds and blues express the unpredictable French citizens Joan passes daily along the winding streets. I think the magic of this emotive work and of abstract art as a whole is that it’s always up for interpretation.

August, Rue Daguerre (1957) is certainly one of my favorite paintings in the Phillips’s collection. I appreciate how Joan Mitchell was brave enough to express herself through abstract art, knowing critics and the public may never fully understand her vision… and personally, I think being brave is what being a woman is all about.

Aysia Woods, Marketing Intern

ArtGrams: Step Right Up

In this month’s installment of ArtGrams, Instagrammers prove there are no limits of where to find beauty. We love how so many people find great inspiration in the mixture of stark angles with soft curves in the museum’s spiral staircase in the Goh Annex. Here are some of our favorite images that capture the stairway’s distinctive design.

Remember to hashtag your Instagram photos with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.

Staircase_1_mrs_badger

Via Instagrammer @mrs_badger: “Exploring”

Staircase_2_februaryrodeo

Via Instagrammer @februaryrodeo

Staircase_5_ljlarue

Via Instagrammer @ljlarue: “Stairs, girl, and shoe”

Staircase_4_nelizabeth

Via Instagrammer @nelizabeth

Staircase_3_brendagtzll

Via Instagrammer @brendagtzll: “Phillips Collection USA’s First Museum of Modern Art”

 

Coping with Cancer Through Art

Randy head shot

Randy Bostic

Los Angeles-based Randy Bostic voted The Phillips Collection “Best Museum off the Mall” in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC 2015. She explains why in this guest blog post. 

I live in Los Angeles. I started coming to DC regularly in 2011 because of chemotherapy treatments at the NIH for a rare cancer. To pass the time during the weeklong treatment periods, I was always visiting different places in and around DC. On my third trip, I first went to the Phillips. I was amazed at the depth and variety of the art, especially Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, The Rothko Room, and the setting of the two buildings. I soon stopped going to other museums, and every trip I would make my pilgrimage to the Phillips. I realized that I got more out of coming to the Phillips repeatedly than I did going to different places each trip. Sometimes friends and family would accompany me on my bimonthly “chemo vacations,” and I found myself taking them to the Phillips as well. Knowing that I had the Phillips to look forward to on my trips really helped me get through a very difficult time.

Now I am 4 years into remission. Whenever I go to the NIH for check ups, I stop at the Phillips. The gallery feels like an old friend, a support, an inspiration to me. Whenever I walk in, I feel like I am surrounded by such a powerful life force. The Phillips is more than a museum to me. Lawrence, Rothko, Klee, the Laib Wax Room, and the rest got me through so much. It was a healing place to me.

Randy Bostic