To celebrate the Washington Nationals’s clinching the NL East with a win in Atlanta, the Phillips is showing off its Natitude with bobbleheads, artist jerseys, Nats caps, and even our very own Night Baseball artwork by Marjorie Phillips in the galleries. GO NATS!
These three portraits, recent acquisitions for the museum, are currently the only thing displayed in a small gallery at the Phillips. Take a moment to look at each one. What are the similarities? What are the differences?
It’s not until we look at the labels that we realize what creates the small nuances in color and line between the three works—each one is a different form of print. Artist Alex Katz is known for his arresting simplicity of line and form, bright, flat colors, and a powerful graphic punch that link them to commercial art and popular culture. By generalizing the features of a sitter or a landscape, and removing any expressive or emotional content, Katz focuses instead on formal properties of light, scale and color.
I first became interested in Faith Ringgold’s strategic marriage of art and activism in the 1960s—then an under-examined aspect of her project—while working on my dissertation. Just a couple of years ago, I was prompted to see her ambitious painting Die of 1967 with fresh eyes when a friend asked if it represented stages in a sequential narrative. That question prompted me to think more deeply about the painting’s formal and conceptual ambiguities and how they operated in the political, racial, and aesthetic discourses of its charged moment. As a result, Die and its reception figure in my book Radical/Chic: Race, Politics, and the Legacy of Social Realism in Art of the 1960s as a key example of the shifting dynamics by which racial politics influenced a politics of style.
—Anne Monahan, 2014-15 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Modern Art / The George Washington University