Performers of the Belle Époque: Yvette Guilbert

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Époque, on view Feb. 4 through April 30, 2017.

Yvette Guilbert

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Yvette Guilbert, 1893. Brush and crayon lithograph, printed in brownish black on wove paper. Only state, regular edition, from Le Café Concert album, Paris: L’Estampe originale. Private collection

Pictured here, Yvette Guilbert had a vocal style, unusual physical appearance, and celebrated comic timing that won her international celebrity. She sang songs by poets and writers that tackled themes of death, sex, and poverty. She relied on humor to soften “all the indecencies, all the excesses, all the vices of my contemporaries, and to enable them to laugh at themselves.”

Constructing New Space for Art

Rendering of the Phillips@THEARC space

Rendering of the Phillips’s space at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), expected in 2018

We’re excited to share a progress report on our space at Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC). Announced in 2015, The Phillips Collection’s long-term partnership with THEARC willl include dynamic, multi-generational programs grounded in the notion that art, when integrated with personal experience, can change lives. Above is a rendering of the space the Phillips will occupy; below is a photo of the construction thus far, courtesy of sanchez palmer architects. We can’t wait to see more!

phillipsatthearc construction

Phase III building construction of THEARC (the Phillips’s space at bottom left corner)

Phillips History on View: Loss and Intimacy

Duncan and Jim as boys

Duncan and Jim Phillips as boys.

See the introduction to this series here.

Duncan Phillips and Jim, his older brother by two years, were quite close. Jim even waited two years to attend Yale University so that he and Duncan could go at the same time. In 1918, after traveling and collecting art together, Jim died in the Spanish flu epidemic at the age of 34. Duncan’s father, Duncan Clinch Phillips, had died the previous year.

After the death of his father and brother, Duncan and his mother decided to turn their house into The Phillips Memorial Art Gallery in 1921. In an essay titled “Art and Intimacy,” Robert Hughes writes that “Though born in grief, the collection would eschew the monumental: it would go in the family house and, symbolically, restore the life that house had lost.”

The sense of family is reflected in The Phillips Collection, which doesn’t resemble most museums or white-cube galleries, but a home. Hughes quotes Duncan as saying “we plan to try the effect of domestic architecture, of rooms small or at least livable, and of such an intimate, attractive atmosphere as we associate with a beautiful home.” It’s particularly striking to look at old photos of the galleries and see plush furniture, ashtrays, and a coffee table. However, this unusual approach is seamless and makes the viewer feel at home, admiring the old fireplaces, and picturing the galleries as former dining and living rooms. The atmosphere Duncan invented encouraged visitors to linger.

Maya Simkin, Library Intern