If You Take A Closer Look…

franz marc

Franz Marc, Deer in the Forest I, 1913. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 x 41 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift from the estate of Katherine S. Dreier, 1953

If you happen to walk through the Music Room, take a look to your right on the way to the staircase. There by the elevator hangs one of my favorite works in The Phillips Collection, Deer in the Forest I (1913). The artist, Franz Marc, combines cubism and symbolism in this painting, creating a dynamic landscape filled with vibrant colors and bold lines. One of the main reasons I love this painting so much (besides the adorable cubist deer!) is because of the symbolic way Marc used color. Franz Marc always used color to tell a story, or to represent a feeling in his works instead of just recreating the physical reality of his subjects. It is known also that Marc assigned certain characteristics to each color that he used. Blue was the color Marc used to represent masculinity and spirituality, yellow he identified as feminine and joyful, and red symbolized either serious undertones or violence. By knowing the symbolism in Franz Marc’s use of color, Deer in the Forest I takes on new meaning. The foreground of the painting is dominated by the yellow deer themselves and the green of their surroundings, evoking a sense of security and contentment. But the red splashed over the background looms above the deer, hinting, perhaps, at the danger and violence that lurks outside of their peaceful forest home.

Read more about this work on our website.

Veronica Parker, Director’s Office Intern

Director’s Desk: Dispatch From Seoul

Olafur Eliasson Seoul

Olafur Eliasson installation at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. Magnificent transformation of a staircase with the magic of light and mirrors causing poetic and mind bending reflections. Meanwhile, across town, our brilliant Phillips Collection exhibition Ingres to Kandinsky at the Seoul Arts Center.

Staff Show 2014: Ashley Meadows

In this series, we profile participants in the 2014 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show

Ashley Meadows, They have been around for at least 565 million years, and probably far longer. And they haven't needed to change their body form or lifestyle in all that time... because they work. 2013, embroidery on cotton

Ashley Meadows, They have been around for at least 565 million years, and probably far longer. And they haven’t needed to change their body form or lifestyle in all that time… because they work. 2013, embroidery on cotton

Ashley took a few moments to give us some insight about her role at The Phillips Collection and her piece in the Staff Show. When not stitching, Ashley Meadows is a museum educator who splits her time between leading tours at The Phillips Collection, cyber navigating at ARTLAB+ at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and creating art+science workshops at the National Museum of Natural History.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection?  Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am just one member of the excellent School Programs Educator team! We design, write, and lead arts-integrated lessons both in the galleries and in DC public schools. We create unique tours for groups visiting the Phillips just once and for our Art Links partner schools. If you’re in the museum on a weekday morning, you’ll likely see (and hear) us moving through the museum with groups of students from Pre-K to high school.

What is your favorite work in the collection?

The Open Window by Pierre Bonnard is one of my favorites because I also live with a little, trouble-making black cat.

What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?

The Sant stairs have the best wooden treads and acoustics for boot heels I’ve ever encountered.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2014 Staff Show (and/or your work in general)?

This jellyfish is just one in a series of six completed early this year. I became interested in jellyfish because they have been successfully going with the flow for hundreds of millions of years and are quite powerful, especially in large numbers. Each jellyfish is reduced from its shapely form to a linear drawing and the colors are fictional. Each jellyfish requires about fifteen to twenty hours of stitching.

The 2014 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show will be on view December 16, 2014 through January 19, 2015. The show features artwork from Phillips Collection staff.