Each of these pieces from our permanent collection was created in 1917 and celebrates 100 years in 2017. What are some of your favorite one hundred year old works?
In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 17, 2017.
What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?
I’m a Museum Assistant and also part of the AV department. It’s interesting to see exhibits go from initial planning phase to actual show. I also enjoy meeting living artist who are in the collection. The only drawback is that when I go to other museums, I start counting how many security rules people break.
Who is your favorite artist in the collection?
What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?
The Rothko Room. What many people see as just solid color in the paintings is actually, when examined, a blend of color with depth and texture. Spending hours in the galleries changes your way of seeing.
What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2017 Staff Show (or your work in general)?
Last year sculptor, photographer, and painter William Christenberry died of complications from Alzheimer’s, which destroys the brain’s ability to remember. Yet his death caused me to recall the many times over the years seeing him personally visit the Phillips as an artist and a trustee on the board. He was always friendly, cordial: a real southern gentleman. I liked his sculpture but also really enjoyed his photography of the south. D.C. is a southern town in certain ways. Every summer I visit Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the southern confederacy. Last year I took a picture of a barbershop store front with a Coca-Cola sign. I took another one this year. Christenberry also liked to take multiple images of the same thing over time. Richmond has a certain southern charm and pace of life that D.C. is starting to lose because of gentrification. The Coca-Cola sign and the corner here reminded me of Christenberry’s photos.
The 2017 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 3 through September 17, 2017.
Golden Storm was painted on Arthur dove’s boat in Huntington Harbor, Long Island, and is one of the earliest Dove paintings to enter The Phillips Collection. It represents Dove at the beginning of his mature style. The small scale of the work, the result of limited working space, does not detract from the immense power of the painting, capturing the movement of the water and freezing it into abstract, timeless patterns. This work, in its successful evocation of the inner vitality of nature, constitutes the culmination of formative influences in Dove’s development, including trends in European modernist art, especially Wassily Kandinsky’s notion of spirituality.
Duncan Phillips’s acquisition of Golden Storm in 1926 represented a breakthrough for the collector in his growing acceptance of abstract form and expressive color as evocations of nature’s underlying dynamism. He admired Golden Storm as a “symphonic tone-poem on earth shapes whirled in the maelstrom.” He compared the painting to the art of Albert Pinkham Ryder, whom he considered Dove’s “spiritual ancestor,” not only in his reduction of nature’s forms to their purest elements, but also in his experimental techniques and choice of medium. Phillips also recognized a spiritual element in this early work of Dove’s in stating, “When there is a hint of great things going on in the mind of the artist and of his consciousness of the rhythm of the universe, abstract art ceases to be an amusement for the aesthete and becomes a divine activity.”