Man Ray Set To Music

Local songwriter Andrew Trotter recently visited Man Ray–Human Equations while taking part in a songwriting challenge. “When I walked in, I knew there had to be a song there. After I wrote the lyrics for the challenge, trying to capture some of the qualities of Man Ray’s art, my musical collaborator from Canada, Natalie Edelson, put it to appropriately surreal music and made a demo,” says Trotter. He was kind enough to share the final product with us; check out the demo and an excerpt of the lyrics below.

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Man Ray
White skull, pale breast
Kitchen implement,
Object, soft flesh
Is that what you meant?

Man Ray,
Won’t you come down to play,
The artists at the cafe
Are making their moves
On lovely young things today.

Man Ray
You pictured a derriere,
Each part of her is fair,
But this butterfly you’ll never get,
Slipped out of your camera’s net.

Man Ray,
What is this game you play,
Why don’t you let things stay
As they are—you’re pushing it way too far.

This Painting Sounds Like…

Allen Tucker The Rise

What does Allen Tucker’s The Rise sound like to you? Image: Allen Tucker, The Rise, not dated. Oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 36 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1927

An upcoming performance by singers from Vocal Arts DC got me thinking about not just the thoughts, but the soundtrack that goes through my head as I’m wandering the museum’s galleries. On April 17, co-winners of the Art Song Discovery Competition Natalie Conte and Matthew Morris (read about and hear them perform on SoundCloud) pair artworks in Made in the USA with music of similar moods. I wonder if, like me, they hear Travis Tritt’s “It’s a Great Day To Be Alive” when they see Allen Tucker’s The Rise. Here are a few other pairings I’ve unwittingly made:

Gifford Beal The Fish Bucket and Edward Hopper Sunday

“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles comes to mind for Gifford Beal’s The Fish Bucket, and Edward Hopper’s Sunday sounds like Phantom Planet’s “Lonely Day”.
Images: (left) Gifford Beal, The Fish Bucket, 1924. Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 24 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1925 © The Estate of Gifford Beal, courtesy of Kraushaar Galleries, New York (right) Edward Hopper, Sunday, 1926. Oil on canvas, 29 x 34 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1926

Elizabeth Murray The Sun and the Moon, Milton Avery Black Sea

Elizabeth Murray’s The Sun and the Moon sends me into a Skrillex “Bangarang” frenzy, and Milton Avery’s Black Sea makes me think of the Jaws theme song.
Images: (left) Elizabeth Murray, The Sun and the Moon, between 2004 and 2005. Oil on panel mounted on wood, 117 x 107 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Gift of Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro and Gifford and Joann Phillips, 2006. (right) Milton Avery, Black Sea, 1959, Oil on canvas, 50 x 67 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1965 © 2014 Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Lee Gatch Industrial Night

And for no discernible reason, Billy Joel’s “Allentown” comes to mind when I see Lee Gatch’s Industrial Night.
Image: Lee Gatch, Industrial Night, 1948. Oil on canvas, 17 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1949

What do you hear when you wander the galleries at The Phillips Collection?

Amy Wike, Marketing Manager

The Round Table and a Story of Friendship: Georges Braque and Erik Satie

3)Georges Braque, The Round Table, 1929. Oil, sand, charcoal on canvas, 57 3/8 x 44 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1934 © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Georges Braque, The Round Table, 1929. Oil, sand, charcoal on canvas, 57 3/8 x 44 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1934 © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Georges Braque was a great admirer of music who played several instruments including the accordion, flute, and violin. He often referenced music in his paintings of still life, and thirteen are on view in the Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life 1928-1945 exhibition.

For example, in The Round Table, 1929 (seen at left), Braque features a guitar, sheet music, an étude (a short musical composition) along with other objects atop a table in the corner of a room. Across the open pages of the sheet music, the letters E ATIE appear. Already in 1911, Braque introduced lettering into his cubist works because: “[their] presence made it possible to distinguish the objects situated in space from those that were outside space.” The letters E ATIE seen here may allude to composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) who met Braque through Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929). Braque and Satie, both originally from the Normandy region of France, shared a 16 year friendship, and lunched together weekly. In the painting, Guitar and Glass (Socrates), 1919, [Musée Pompidou, Paris], Braque paid tribute to Satie and the composer’s oratorio from 1917-1918. Three years later, in 1921, they collaborated on the printed edition of Le piège de Méduse, a short play with music by Satie for which Braque contributed 3 color woodcuts, his first foray into book illustration. When Braque painted The Round Table, he may have again been thinking of Satie, who had recently passed away, and was so dear to him that he acquired a portrait of the composer as well as one of his pianos.

Renée Maurer, Assistant Curator