Pierre Bonnard, The Open Window, 1921. Oil on canvas, 46 1/2 x 37 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1930
A couple of days ago, I attended a spotlight talk focused on one of my favorite paintings in the Collection: Pierre Bonnard’s The Open Window (1921). We began with a quiet reflection on the painting, after which Phillips Librarian Karen Schneider guided our group to an understanding of the subject matter, palette, and structural lines of the work.
Examining the painting, the viewer is drawn first to the scene out the window–the serenity of the lush green trees and fading blue sky of the world outside. Then we observe the hard lines of the window frame and the bright, warm colors of the interior setting. Last, we notice a woman sitting, perhaps sleeping, in the bottom right hand corner, blurred and barely discernible. I almost didn’t notice her at all. This was in fact the artist’s intent, I learned. With contrasting hues and structural lines, Bonnard is recreating the experience of going out into the bright light and then coming back inside. We are caught in the moment when vision is temporarily impaired, and we only catch the outline of a form out of the corner of our eye. The outside is still beckoning.
Did you know that Pierre Bonnard actually visited The Phillips Collection in 1926? After complementing Marjorie Phillips on her paintings, he asked to borrow a brush so he could touch up one of his works in the Collection. Fortunately, she said she didn’t have one with her and convinced him not to alter the work!
Jane Clifford, Marketing Intern
Tyler Elementary School Students create storyboards inspired by Franz Marc’s Deer in the Forest I. Photo: James R. Brantley
On May 14 and 16 we wrapped up another successful year of the Art Links to Learning: Museum-in-Residence program with two artists’ receptions for 350 students from Tyler Elementary School and Takoma Education Campus. Students enjoyed seeing their work in the current Young Artists Exhibition and venturing out into the galleries before school’s out for summer!
Natalie Mann, School, Outreach, and Family Programs Coordinator
Takoma Education Campus middle school students settle into the auditorium on May 16. Photo: James R. Brantley
Tyler Elementary School students peruse the Young Artists Exhibition featuring their class’s collaborative artwork. Photo: James R. Brantley
We’ve explored Phillips connections popping up in Fred Astaire movies, spy novels, and clothing store displays. But right now, we’re overrun with superheroes.
Our Rothko appears unscathed in this explosive scene from Iron Man 3.
Assistant Registrar Gretchen Martin confirmed Director of Membership Jeff Petrie’s hunch that in Iron Man 3, the Rothko painting hanging on the wall of Tony Stark’s Malibu mansion as he and Pepper Potts are sent flying after a blow up is in fact our Ochre and Red on Red (1954). Spoiler alert? Oh well, it’s in the trailer. You’ll see the Phillips thanked in the credits if you’re one to stay ’till the bitter end. On Thursday, we’ll sacrifice some street parking to help the filming of Captain America. Bringing you the big stars and the big explosions is just part of our work here at the museum. You’re welcome.