Phillips Flashback: November 5, 1960

A view on 21st Street, NW, of the 1960 annex. Photo: Phillips Collection Archives

A new wing, known as the annex and designed by the firm Wyeth and King, opens. Joined to the 1907 Music Room addition and the 1920 Main Gallery addition by a glass bridge, the new space is hailed in the Sunday Star and the Washington Post as a successful addition to the architecture of Washington. “What you will see will be a small masterpiece of modern museum design and a rare example of quiet brilliance in the installation of art for public view,” writes Frank Getlein in the Sunday Star. The Post’s Leslie Judd Ahlander writes:

The biggest and best art news in Washington this week is that the Phillips Gallery is open again and the new wing can now be seen. . . . Inside, the Duncan Phillipses have happily followed the most successful feature of the old gallery: comfortable chairs and tables, beautifully decorated rooms (the work of Marjorie Phillips) rugs in the floors and large ashtrays on every table, inviting the visitor to sit down and relax in a home-like atmosphere.

The annex’s first iteration will live a relatively brief life, renovated in 1989 by Arthur Cotton Moore and Associates.

Phillips Flashback: September 1916

Arthur B. Davies, The Hesitation of Orestes

Arthur B. Davies, The Hesitation of Orestes, c.1915-18. Oil on canvas, 26 x 40 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1923.

Art and Archaeology publishes Duncan Phillips’s article, “The American painter, Arthur B. Davies,” a painter about whom Phillips will write many times in the coming years. In the article, Phillips invokes Piero di Cosimo as a painter of related spirit. Around the time Phillips is writing his article, Davies is creating The Hesitation of Orestes, which clearly shares a palette, perspective, and setting with Piero’s A Hunting Scene (c. 1507-08).

. . . However, in spite of the technical distinction of the art of Davies, the originality of the work is mental rather than manual. The paradox of his aggressive attitude as a chef d ecole of modernity is that really he is only a modern edition of that quaint primitive Piero di Cosimo. In every age such dreamers seem unsatisfied, preferring evocations of the past and intimations of the future to sensations of the present hour.

In this year, Phillips acquires at least two works by Davies: Many Waters (c. 1905) and Visions of Glory (1896).

Printing the (Phillips) Diamond Jubilee

Photos of the plate and print proposed by Scip Barnhart for the Phillips's 60th anniversary

Plate and print proposed by Scip Barnhart for the Phillips's 60th anniversary. Photos: Scip Barnhart

Long before he led Thursday’s Jasper Johns-inspired printmaking demonstration, Scip Barnhart brought his master printer credentials to the Phillips. In 1981, Scip presented Marjorie Phillips with this proposal for a 60th anniversary commemorative print–an image of Duncan Phillips posed with furrowed brow before the museum’s original entrance, as if seen through a fishbowl or convex mirror. Though the print was not accepted for the diamond anniversary, Scip held onto it over more than 30 intervening years (it hangs framed on an upstairs wall of his home) and shared it with us as we prepared for a major exhibition focused on innovation in his medium of printmaking.