New Spaces / No Faces

Insults to the Public

Bernardi Roig, Insults to the Public, 2007. Polyester resin, marble dust, and TV/Video monitor. 22 4/5 x 8 1/4 x 9 in. Private Collection. Photos: Annie Dolan

In just a few days we say goodbye to Bernardi Roig’s six sculptures that have truly become a part of the Phillips’s landscape over the past five months. A lengthy exhibition time is fitting given the inconspicuous nature of the works, placed in unsuspecting spaces throughout the galleries. For frequent visitors to the museum, it might have taken a couple of walkthroughs to find all six. That was precisely Roig’s aim: to activate areas of the museum typically not used for exhibition space.

The smallest of the sculptures, Insults to the Public (2007) is the most inconspicuous of all, hidden in an elevator bank on the second floor of the original Phillips house. Although the smallest in size, Insults to the Public is the only one with an audio component coming from the small LCD screen featuring a speaking portrait. The colorless, faceless plaster sculpture is therefore not only illuminated by the vibrant lights coming from the screen, but also brought to life by the moving image which seems to be lecturing the weary figure leaning against it. With distorted bodily proportions and suggestive body language, Roig’s miniature standing figure evokes a feeling of simultaneous exhaustion, shame, and defeat.

My interpretation of this work is that the man on the screen could easily be the face of the sculpture himself. With a hanging head and a faceless expression, the man has no identity, yet his bald head matches the bald head on the screen in front of him. Is the speaking man giving his own tired body a critical lecture? This added dimension makes Insults to the Public one of the most thought provoking of the six sculptures given the suggestion of self-inspection.

We might have to say “goodbye” for now to Bernardi Roig’s sculptures, but we’ll always look at the spaces they inhabited with a new level of appreciation, remembering these haunting sculptures.

Annie Dolan, Marketing and Communications Intern


Through The Lens of Sculpture


Bernardi Roig’s The Man of the Light (2005), as seen through Morris Graves’s Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists (1962 / completed 1999)

Director of the Center and Curator-at-Large Klaus Ottmann recently replaced the galleries previously occupied by A Tribute to Anita Reiner with a new installation highlighting works from the permanent collection, including a handful of sculptures. The works interact with Bernardi Roig‘s installation in the stairwell, as well as the surrounding paintings, in an interesting way. Here’s a peek inside the galleries.

morris graves

Morris Graves, Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists, 1962/completed 1999. Brass slag, stained glass, marble, propeller, and nickel-plated brass, 36 1/4 x 18 x 17 3/4 in.(H w/ base, W is largest diameter, D is length of base). The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Gift of Penelope Schmidt and Robert Yarber, 2001

Weather Prediction Instruments for Meteorologists, 1962/completed 1999, Brass slag, stained glass, marble, propeller, and nickel-plated brass 36 1/4 x 18 x 17 3/4 in.; 92.075 x 45.72 x 45.085 cm. (H w/ base, W is largest diameter, D is length of base). Gift of Penelope Schmidt and Robert Yarber, 2001


David Smith’s Bouquet of Concaves (1950) with Richard Diebenkorn’s Girl with Plant (1960) and Boy by Bernard Karfiol (n.d.)


Staff Show 2014: Emily Francisco

In this series, Assistant to the Education Department Emily Bray profiles participants in the 2014 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show.

Emily Francisco is a sculptress specializing in the creation of interactive objects that generate sound. Born in Honolulu, raised in an isolated mid-western town, educated in Saint Louis and the District of Columbia—she is a former Artist in Residence at Artisphere, and will be in Residence at Montgomery College starting in January of 2015. She kicked off Flashpoint Gallery’s 2014-2015 season with a solo exhibition titled Something Slightly Familiar, and lectured at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art as part of the Luce Foundation Center’s Art + Coffee Series. She was also a Visiting Artist and Guest Lecturer at Webster University in Saint Louis as part of the Sculpture City 2014 initiative. Emily recently participated in Transformer Gallery’s Exercises for Emerging Artists Program, contributing work for the Coda of Fermata, the region’s largest exhibition dedicated entirely to sound. She currently lives and works in the DC area.

Emily Francisco, Nevermore, 2014, archival ink on paper

Emily Francisco, Nevermore, 2014, archival ink on paper

What do you do at The Phillips Collection?  Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am a Museum and Audio Visual Assistant. When I am not guarding the collection or setting up audio and visual technical support for events, I am working on digitizing the media archives within the museum’s library.

Who is/are your favorite artist/artists in the collection?

As a sculptress and installation artist, I always root for the object/environment makers. While I enjoy the museum’s collection of Calder mobiles and various bronze sculptures, the Laib Wax Room is my favorite part of the collection. Although Bernardi Roig’s Intersections pieces are not part of the permanent collection, I will be sad to see them all go, especially An Illuminated Head for Blinky P. (The Gun).

What is your favorite gallery/space within The Phillips Collection?

I had read a number of essays by Joseph Beuys throughout my preliminary education in art, so I was naturally drawn to the Laib Wax Room when I started working for the Phillips. I visit the Wax Room during the quiet times in the galleries. The galleries located within Phillips’s original house are also some of my favorite spaces in the building.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2014 Staff Show (i.e. subject matter, materials, process, etc)?

A widow had delivered a grand piano to my studio. She wanted her husband’s piano to become something new—I accepted the challenge. I have always considered objects to be more than what they are made of, so by accepting her husband’s piano, it felt as if I had agreed to serve as a mediator of mourning. In considering the metaphorical weight of sentimental objects, I frequently render somewhat fantastical situations. Ravens are often depicted as mediators between life and death, which is why I chose to illustrate a flock, collectively, transporting an enormous weight through the sky.

The 2014 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show will be on view December 16, 2014 through January 19, 2015. The show features artwork from Phillips Collection staff.