Spotlight on Intersections@5: Vesna Pavlovic

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

Pavlovic_Untitled Swiss

Vesna Pavlovic, Untitled (Swiss Peasant art exhibition, 1957.4), 2014. Archival pigment print, 40 x 50 in. Gift of the artist, 2014. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

While exploring The Phillips Collection’s archive, I came across a group of black and white photographs and negatives taken in 1960s. These included images of an exhibition of Giacometti’s sculptural works, Mark Tobey’s paintings, and images of the former Annex façade, among others. The materiality of these large format negatives and their inevitable photographic obsolescence became the starting point of my exploration. I overlaid found analog negatives and scanned them digitally to create new photographs. Physically bringing layers of images together turned negatives opaque and ghostly looking. The study of the archive exposed the sensibility of the collection and aesthetic choices of image and text display in the museum. For me, this was an opportunity to examine photographic representation of specific political and cultural histories of the America’s first museum of modern art.

Vesna Pavlović

Deconstructing Lawrence’s Struggle Series: Panel 17

This spring, former Phillips curator Beth Turner taught an undergraduate practicum at the University of Virginia focusing on Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle series. In this multi-part blog series, responses from Turner’s students in reference to individual works from the series will be posted each week.

Struggle_Panel 17

Jacob Lawrence, Struggle … From the History of the American People, no. 17: I shall hazard much and can possibly gain nothing by the issue of this interview -Hamilton Before His Duel With Burr, 1804, 1956. Egg tempera on hardboard, 16 x 12 in. Private Collection of Harvey and Harvey-Ann Ross. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I shall hazard much and can possibly gain nothing by the issue of this interview…–Hamilton before his duel with Burr, 1804

This specific piece, which depicts the infamous duel and subsequent death of Alexander Hamilton in 1804, departs from many of the other panels of the series in its stylistic qualities. The violence in the image is subtle, but salient. The composition guides the eyes through diagonals to see the splash of red, resulting from Hamilton’s injury.

Here Lawrence communicates the universal struggle that is the Civil Rights Movement through a moment of sacrifice strikingly significant to the American people. Like the participants of the Civil Rights Movement, Hamilton had everything to lose, including his life, but he felt it his moral duty to fight. This story aptly conveys the human condition that Lawrence always sought to portray. The struggle is long and bitter, but there is an innate force, driving people to continue on with the hopes of a better life. For Hamilton, a better life was one in which his honor was intact. For those struggling in the Civil Rights Movement at the time, that life included equality.

Alexis Baker

ArtGrams: Appreciating Morris Louis

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Via Instagrammer @_samjang_ #MorrisLouis #DC

This month’s ArtGrams features Morris Louis’s large-scale painting Seal (1959). Here are some of our favorite interactions with the work snapped by Instagrammers.

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Instagrammer @jonathanaustinart: “Checking out the masterpieces at The Phillips Collection. Best way to start my weekend. Morris Louis’s paintings.”

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We see some Louis reflections in this scarf! Shot by @rareformproperties.

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Thanks, @belleauroradesigns! “Love the @phillipscollection”

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Black top / black jeans / black paint. Photo by @dannythimm

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Cropping just the corner and putting a tinted filter over Louis’s vibrant colors casts “Seal” in a new light. Photo by @willballantynereid