Mining the Archives

Pavlovic_Phillips Flashback

(Left) Vesna Pavlović, Untitled (Swiss Peasant art exhibition, 1957.4), (2014). Courtesy of the artist and G Fine Art (Right) Vesna Pavlović, Installation view of Untitled (Annex, Giacometti exhibition, 1963), 2014. Photo: Mica Scalin

Intersections artist Vesna Pavlović, whose installation Illuminated Archive opened at the Phillips last week, mined the museum’s archival materials to create new works exploring the idea of transparency. The works above feature photographic negatives from exhibitions throughout Phillips history, altered in a variety of ways and to varying degrees.

What I love most about the work at right, a 35-foot curtain made up of digitally manipulated negatives from a 1963 Alberto Giacometti exhibition, is how necessary uncontrollable elements—weather, sunlight, time—are to the viewer experience. Pass by this work at high noon on a sunny day, and the curtain is nearly clear. Chance upon it at dawn or dusk, however, and the details of light and shadow are revealed. It feels like a secret, intimate moment shared between viewer and artwork; a playful approach to the idea of transparency and our perception of it.

Amy Wike, Marketing Manager

Phillips Flashback: April 7, 1940

Brochure for Emotional Design in Painting, 1940. Phillips Collection Archives.

Brochure for Emotional Design in Painting, 1940; front cover and inside page. Phillips Collection Archives.

April 7 is opening day for C. Law Watkins’s education exhibition, Emotional Design in Painting. 72 works are shown, grouped under 28 motifs and design concepts. Watkins, associate director of the gallery and director of the art school, hangs old masters on loan from museums nationwide alongside contemporary works in a didactic sequence, exploring the expressive function of diagonals, organic forms, motion, and shape.

Gallery E in the House.

Gallery E in the House.

Gabriele Orozco's Zapatistas, 1931, on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, displaying the "diagonals" motif.

Gabriele Orozco’s Zapatistas, 1931, on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, displaying the “diagonals” motif.

To illustrate "verticals" Georgia O'Keeffe's Night in New York, is hung near a Chinese scroll from the Ming Dynasty.

To illustrate “verticals” Georgia O’Keeffe’s Night in New York is hung near a Chinese scroll from the Ming Dynasty.

Phillips Flashback: January 1925

This painting, known in 1925 as "New York Roof," was part of the first Little Room exhibition. Marjorie Phillips, The City, 1922. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1984.

This painting, known in 1925 as “New York Roof,” was part of the first Little Room exhibition. Marjorie Phillips, The City, 1922. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1984.

On January 4, 1925, the Sunday Star runs a column by its art critic Leila Mechlin, who reports:

The Phillips Memorial Gallery has extended its exhibition facilities by opening a little gallery in the Phillips residence communicating, up a few steps, with the main gallery in the annex. In this little gallery, which has excellent lighting, are to be installed during the remainder of the season a series of one-man shows to run a fortnight each. The series was inaugurated this week by an exhibition of the recent work of Marjorie Phillips- a good beginning, and one which augurs well for the interest of the plan.

The space, known as the Little Gallery (and later identified as Gallery B), will be used to highlight the work of American artists such as Ernest Lawson, Childe Hassam, Charles Demuth and others. The installation of Marjorie’s work is on view January 4 through 17, 1925.