One of our favorite ways to shake off the Monday blues is to take a break—for art! Every first Monday of the month at 1 pm EST we facilitate a Twitter chat, called #BreakforArt, to discuss one work from the Phillips’s permanent collection. Below is some of the great discussion from our last session, which focused on Stuart Davis’s Blue Café.
Neo-Impressionist artists, like Symbolist poets and composers, sought to evoke certain moods, feelings, and experiences through their work. They utilized color, stylization, and compositional elements to create atmospheric, dreamlike worlds.
In Neo-Impressionism and the Dream of Realities: Painting, Poetry, Music, you can create your own “dream of realities” using an in-gallery app modeled after the Neo-Impressionists’ techniques. Snap a self-portrait, pointillize it, then customize it by selecting the dot size, applying color effect, and adding your signature. Share your photo with #NeoImpressed and you might just end up starring in our blog roundup!
When I first saw a Mondrian painting, I got angry. Hands-curled-up-into-fists, eyes-bulging, frowny-faced angry. “What even is this!?,” I mentally shouted to nobody in particular. “Give me some graph paper and I could do it.” (Full disclaimer: I am a terrible artist. Even if I did have graph paper, I could not come close to emulating the precision of one of Mondrian’s works.) I wandered—stomped—away from the painting, seeking some other work of art that could cool me down.
This reaction was probably about ten years ago. I don’t remember where I was, or the precise details of the painting itself, but I do remember my bodily reaction to it. I’ve created a memory of myself as reactor more than passive observer, and that is the memory which has stuck with me through the years. A painting by Mondrian is currently on display at the Phillips, and when I walk by it, the memory of my initial and totally irrational rage floods in—despite the fact that intellectually, I understand the artistry of the painting in front of me.
Why did a piece of canvas on a wall inspire such an emotional and physical reaction? What is it about certain works of art that makes us actively respond rather than merely see? This is one of the questions on hand in art theorist Fré Ilgen’s latest book, ARTIST? The Hypothesis of Bodiness, which investigates “the involvement of the (mind/)body in everything we do, think or experience.” Ilgen will discuss his book in a panel moderated by Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski on October 15 at American University.
Have you ever experienced a reaction like this to a work of art, positive or negative? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Emily Hurwitz, Marketing and Communications Intern