Tuesday Tunes: A Playlist for William Baziotes

Taking inspiration from the major theme of music in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee, we paired 11 staff members with 11 works from the exhibition and asked them to create a playlist in response to their individual artwork. Liza Strelka, Manager of Exhibitions, created her playlist in response to William Baziotes’s “Pierrot.”

William Baziotes, Pierrot, 1947, Oil on canvas, 42 1/8 x 36 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1984 © Estate of William Baziotes

“The clown is a romantic and classical image. The artist doesn’t want to reveal his feelings directly so he presents himself in disguise. His clothes and gestures are gay and beautiful, his face is sad.”

Pierrot illustrates William Baziotes’s belief that the traditional motif of the clown embodies similar experiences and struggles of the artist. The Pierrot is a playful yet tragic figure whose makeup-covered exterior entertains while the heart and soul of the person underneath searches for his place within society. Visual artists of the early to mid-20th century, such as Baziotes, Klee, Picasso, and Rouault, found the motif of the Pierrot rich artistic exploration.

The influence of the Pierrot wasn’t just contained to visual art. I first chose David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes, not only because the staccato rhythm of the song evokes the teetering of the figure’s oblong head and the jumbled limb movements but also because the famous music video for the song features Bowie as a Pierrot. From there, I selected songs that echo the painting’s cool color palette and melancholic, searching subject matter by artists who also play with persona and/or mood, whether in their performance or their songwriting. Across all musical genres, there are artists grappling with their place in the world and falling victim to heartbreak, and yet they continue to perform and entertain us.

Liza Strelka, Manager of Exhibitions

Feeling inspired? Create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at communications@phillipscollection.org and we may feature it on our blog and social media.

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Kendall

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. Phillips volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concerts, assisting patrons in the library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Kathy Kendall, Phillips Music Volunteer

Kathy Kendall

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?


What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?

Sitting in the Music Room listening to prize-winning musicians from many countries has not only given me enormous pleasure, hearing the classics played with such fervor and skill, but has also broadened my taste for new and unusual music. We’re all sharing the experience together; sometimes the room just vibrates with excitement. I am delighted to be there, and to help the staff and the audience with the tickets, the programs, and the questions that arise.  We can be an extra hand.

The musicians have extremely busy schedules, and generally leave soon after the concert.  Occasionally, however, the musicians have time for a brief foray into the gallery, and I take them to see Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. The Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party exhibition and excellent panel presentation about the painting helped me to deepen my knowledge of that treasure.

What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

I am about 90% retired as a professor of political communication, having taught at the University at Albany, State University of New York for 37 years, and then at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the Department of Communication. I still work with a few graduate students at UMD; publish occasionally on topics such as communication in the presidential primaries; and attend professional conventions. In my photo, I’m sitting in the model of the Oval Office at the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, happy that more and more women are stepping forward and running for office. 2018 should be a banner year for female candidates.

What is your favorite room or painting here?

For the music volunteers, the Music Room is a logical favorite. The oak paneling, the high windows, the beautiful paintings, and the historical ambiance (these concerts began in 1941) provide the perfect setting for the glorious chamber music.

If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?

I would have to choose several—human scale, calm, and intense focus on creativity.

Share a fun fact about you.

I like the funnies, and read some comic strips every day in the Washington Post. What will happen tomorrow in Spider Man, Pickles, Mark Trail, Peanuts, Sally Forth, and Doonesbury?

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I fell in love with DC on the Washington Semester Plan in college, and can’t imagine a better place to be. The Phillips is a vital part of my life.

The Supreme Doodler

Robert Motherwell, Concept of Woman, 1946. Crayon and watercolor on paper, The Phillips Collection, Gift of Louis and Susan Stamberg, 2014

“One of my natural talents that I don’t use enough in painting is line and paint both. I guess the closest example, though he does miniatures compared to what I do, is Paul Klee.”—Robert Motherwell

obert Motherwell had extensive contact with Paul Klee’s art, both in reproductions in books he owned, as well as in the “hundreds of Klees” he saw in exhibitions in New York. Professing his admiration for Klee as a “supreme doodler,” Motherwell equated doodling to automatic drawing, a method he was first introduced to by Surrealist Roberto Matta in 1941. “I think doodling is strictly one of the alternative ways of drawing. So far as I know, every Paul Klee, after his maturity, invariably began with doodling.”

In his witty Concept of Woman, Motherwell exploits his talent as a doodler in both line and color. Doodling was, however, only the first step in a dynamically evolving process Motherwell called “the automatic and formal beauty that is the end result of an emerging process.” In Concept of Woman, Motherwell begins the composition with freely drawn lines and circular forms that eventually achieve a structural rhythm evocative of a female figure. The “real content” of painting, Motherwell argued, was an expression of a person’s mysterious and elusive qualities, perhaps an aspect that underlies this work’s evocative title.

This work is on view in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee through May 6, 2018.