Spotlight on Intersection@5: Jeanne Silverthorne

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

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Jeanne Silverthorne, Dandelion Clock, 2012. Platinum silicon rubber, phosphorescent pigment on wire, 33 x 29 x 16 in. The Hereward Lester Cooke Memorial Fund, 2014. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Dandelion Clock is a contemporary vanitas, a reminder of transience and mortality. It is infected by signs of morbid excess (the giant size), decay (the faded or “blown” flower), and toxicity (it glows in the dark). Collapsing under the weight of history and new technologies, traditional studio practice is an excavation of the past, offering an archeology of loss. Flirting with the genre of the floral painting, Dandelion Clock embraces the baroque exuberance and post-modern melancholy of the nearly extinct.

Jeanne Silverthorne

Postcards from Japan and A Tokyo Night

The museum’s Annual Gala took place last week with the theme “Postcards from Japan,” followed by the Contemporaries Bash: A Tokyo Night at Dock 5 at Union Market. Check out photos from the festivities below.

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Table setting at this year’s “Postcards from Japan” themed Annual Gala. Photos: Pepe Gomez

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Guests enjoying the Contemporaries Bash: A Tokyo Night. Photo: Pepe Gomez

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Guests enjoying the Contemporaries Bash: A Tokyo Night. Photo: Pepe Gomez

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Guests enjoying a SnoCream truck at the Contemporaries Bash: A Tokyo Night. Photo: Pepe Gomez

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Guest at the Contemporaries Bash: A Tokyo Night

Women’s History Month: “Marjorie Sketches”

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Marjorie Phillips, Little Bouquet, 1934. Oil on canvas, 15 1/2 x 14 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired c. 1941

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of the powerful in the art world throughout history. Often overlooked is one such woman, Marjorie Phillips, who served many roles throughout her marriage to Duncan Phillips: wife, mother, hostess, adviser, museum director, and even artist. Despite the lack of support women received for practicing art at the time that Marjorie began painting, she maintained the hobby until the end of her life. Describing how those around her reacted to her pastime, she remembers Duncan’s mother saying “‘Marjorie sketches.’ That sounded better to her than ‘Marjorie is a painter.’”

But Marjorie was a painter, and a prolific one at that. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, her paintings were exhibited in museums all over the country. Perhaps one of the most widely exhibited is Little Bouquet (1934), featuring a couple of Marjorie’s favorite things: flowers and paint. As her son Laughlin described her artistic style in 1985, “her painting always reflected a conscious decision,” an ironic statement given the apparent spontaneity in Marjorie’s subject matter. Like Little Bouquet, all of her paintings offer a glimpse into her personal life. This piece serves as an inside look at the artist’s working surface as if left mid-session. Yet each individual application of color is extremely deliberate upon close inspection. In a review of her works exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1955, a reporter wrote “without trying for the iridescent chromatic effects of the French painters, she gives an equal impression of color through the simplest of means.” Simple indeed, yet extremely poignant.

Marjorie’s works are exhibited throughout the collection among leading impressionists like Cézanne, Bonnard, and Monet. Her impressionist style shines among them, making her truly a leading lady among her contemporaries.

Annie Dolan, Marketing and Communications Intern