In 1925, Alfred Stieglitz organized a show called Seven Americans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his gallery, “291”. To support the works selected for the exhibition, he published four writings in the brief catalog, one of which is the poem shown above by artist Arthur Dove. Ann Lee Morgan, in her definitive book Arthur Dove: Life and Work, cites Stieglitz’s response to the poem, which addresses abstraction in art, as “a classic.” Morgan says that Dove occasionally took up poetry but that the poem printed in Seven Americans is the “most successfully constructed.”
Last June The Phillips Collection acquired its first painting by the New York artist Tobi Kahn, Lyie (1991). It has now been installed in the spiral staircase of the museum’s Goh Annex. Given by Victoria Schonfeld in memory of her parents, the painting is one of Kahn’s most important paintings of his mature period when forms other than landscape, such as flowers, became a dominant theme. Like most of Kahn’s paintings, Lyie is built up of about 20 layers, beginning with modeling paste containing marble dust on top of white underpainting, followed by opaque paint layers, and finally, a layer of translucent washes.
Earlier this year, Kahn gave an inspiring keynote address at the Phillips during its Art & Innovation Design Gathering, an annual meeting of creative minds that is jointly presented by the Phillips and the University of Virginia.
This week Kahn was invited to speak at Georgetown University by the Program for Jewish Civilization. In conversation with Ori Soltes who teaches theology, philosophy, and art history at Georgetown University, Kahn spoke passionately about how he does not consider himself a Jewish artist or a painter or a sculptor, but just an artist; yet at the same time he cannot separate the knowledge of his Jewish heritage from art history. This combination undoubtedly contributes to Kahn’s unique style of painting that seems equally influenced by Jewish mysticism, such as the color symbolism of the Kabbalah, and the tradition of American modernism, so richly represented by The Phillips Collection’s holdings of Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Toward the end of the conversation, Kahn expressed gratitude to The Phillips Collection for his painting being given such generous placement: “Artists always want to have more space, ” he added, “The Phillips Collection is the perfect space.”
Last month, former foster youth who have spent the summer interning for Congress through the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and the Sara Start Fund came to the Phillips for lunch and a tour. Intern Derrick Riggins shares his impressions in prose, while intern and photographer Linda Lee Zambito provides snapshots from the visit.
On July 16, The Phillips Collection blessed me as well as several other interns with a tour of its permanent collection. We all had a truly good time, but this was my first time really paying attention to the artwork and learning its history. Continue reading “Discovering the World of Art Outside the Dome: Congressional Interns Respond to the Phillips” »