Art at the Mercy of the Elements

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(left) Lee Boroson, Fixed Haze, 2014. Photo: Lee Stalsworth (middle) Vesna Pavlović, Installation view of Untitled (Annex, Giacometti exhibition, 1963), 2014. Photo: Mica Scalin (right) Jill O’Bryan, one billion breaths in a lifetime, 2015. Photo courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

While it might not be immediately apparent, I see a similarity in the works by contemporary artists Lee Boroson, Vesna Pavlović, and Jill O’Bryan currently (or recently, in the case of Pavlović) on view at the Phillips. Through very different materials, all three are subject in some way to elements beyond the artist’s control. Boroson’s Fixed Haze (at left above, and on view in Intersections@5) dangles from the ceiling and might spin rapidly or not at all based on wind; Pavlović’s Untitled (Annex, Giacometti exhibition, 1963), a giant curtain which I wrote briefly about while it was on view in 2014, might show a distinct image or appear nearly transparent depending on sunlight; and as O’Bryan says of her work one billion breaths in a lifetime, this piece is best experienced when “activated” by observing the reflection as you move by it. Seeing these works at different points during the day or month has the potential to be a wholly unique experience each time.

Amy Wike, Marketing Manager

Spotlight on Intersection@5: Jeanne Silverthorne

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.

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Jeanne Silverthorne, Dandelion Clock, 2012. Platinum silicon rubber, phosphorescent pigment on wire, 33 x 29 x 16 in. The Hereward Lester Cooke Memorial Fund, 2014. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Dandelion Clock is a contemporary vanitas, a reminder of transience and mortality. It is infected by signs of morbid excess (the giant size), decay (the faded or “blown” flower), and toxicity (it glows in the dark). Collapsing under the weight of history and new technologies, traditional studio practice is an excavation of the past, offering an archeology of loss. Flirting with the genre of the floral painting, Dandelion Clock embraces the baroque exuberance and post-modern melancholy of the nearly extinct.

Jeanne Silverthorne

Spotlight on Intersections@5: Tayo Heuser

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.
Heuser_Untitled

Tayo Heuser, Untitled, 2010. Woodcut, 53 x 38 in. Gift of the artist, 2011. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

My response to The Rothko Room, particularly to his painting Ochre and Red on Red, painted in 1954:

Color, lightness, fullness, sadness, spirituality, silence, movement, an opening towards a distant place. I wanted to keep still, sit down, look and listen for a very long time. Tears. It was like nothing else. The room has perfect lighting and proportions. The paintings breathed. The plain bench was good. This woodcut and sculptural drawing (among several others created in various sizes) is the result of my response to The Rothko Room.

Tayo Heuser