Rhythm and Rhyme: A Poetry Tour, Part 2

Left: The Post-it poem in progress. Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Interior with View of Ocean (detail), 1957. Photos: Rachel Goldberg

Left: The Post-it poem in progress Right: Richard Diebenkorn, Interior with View of Ocean (detail), 1957. Photos: Rachel Goldberg

After we explored Luncheon of the Boating Party through Shel Silverstein’s We’re Out of Paint, So . . . , poetry tour participants looked closely at Richard Diebenkorn’s  Interior with View of the Ocean. Together, we create a group Post-it poem to capture the essence of the painting.

To start off, each person wrote down one word on a Post-it note. Together we grouped and organized the verbs, nouns, and adjectives and then regrouped them according to their mood. We started with a phrase that conveyed a negative mood and then moved to the more positive words.

Then we added lines based on questions I posed to the group. What does this painting taste like? What does this painting sound like? We discovered it tasted like ‘sweet citrusy sea salt’ and sounded like the percussion triangle (ding, ding, ding, ding!). Our final product posed a perfect end to our poetry tour:

An Ocean View

Lifeless scorching geometric cube.
Refreshing citrusy summer sea salt view with
Vivid triangles: DING DING DING DING!
Peaceful, breezy
Simplicity.

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-gallery Interpretation Coordinator

In Memory of Gifford Phillips, 1918-2013

Richard Diebenkorn, Berkeley No. 1, 1953, Oil on canvas

Richard Diebenkorn, Berkeley No. 1, 1953. Oil on canvas, 60 1/4 x 52 3/4 in. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gifford Phillips, 1977. The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

“. . . That was a painting from our own collection. . . . I had shown slides of some of our paintings to Duncan, and when he saw this particular picture, he said, ‘I’d buy that painting immediately,’ so I remembered that.”

-Gifford Phillips in an oral history interview (March 4, 2004) speaking of the first Diebenkorn painting he and his wife Joann gave to The Phillips Collection.

Gifford Phillips was Duncan Phillips’s nephew, son of Duncan’s beloved brother James. Gifford was a passionate champion of the arts, discerning collector of both contemporary painting and historic Native American work, and dedicated political activist. He died on Wednesday of natural causes at the age of 94. Read about his contributions to art, politics, and publishing in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Museums and the National Spirit: A Solider Named Richard Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn, Girl with Plant, 1960. Oil on canvas, 80 x 69 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1961 The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. © The Estate of Richard Diebenkorn

This post is the fourth and final in a series in honor of Blue Star Museums Initiative. See the previous installments here: part one, two, three.

In 1951, Duncan Phillips received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Kenyon College. According to Marjorie Phillips’s book, Duncan Phillips and his Collection, the movement to recognize Phillips in this way began with a handful of Kenyon professors who had spent off-duty time at The Phillips Collection during the war and found it a place of respite. Phillips had intentionally increased the number of lectures and concerts, as well as loan exhibitions, during war time with the sole purpose of providing as much as possible to museum-goers, especially servicemen, who he felt were in a time of spiritual need.

One soldier in particular was deeply influenced by his wartime visits. Richard Diebenkorn was stationed at Quantico during World War II, working as part of the photographic unit. On weekends, Diebenkorn and his wife, who moved around the country with him to his various posts, would regularly come into D.C. to visit the museums. In an oral history interview with Susan Larsen, Diebenkorn describes the Phillips as home-like with couches for sitting and rugs on the floor. He recalls feeling that the museum was extending a spirit of hospitality to visiting servicemen. In another interview with Fritz Jellinghouse, Diebenkorn  calls the museum, “. . . a refuge, a kind of sanctuary for me, and I just absorbed everything on those walls [ . . . ] I absorbed something else, and that has to do with the incredible generosity that was there to take home with you.”

A favorite of Diebenkorn’s at that time was Matisse’s Studio, Quai Saint-Michel (1916). It is easy to see the influence the painting had on the career of this visiting soldier.