Giacometti at the Phillips, 1963

Vesna Pavlović’s Intersections work, Illuminated Archive (on view through September 28th), uses imagery from our 1963 exhibition Giacometti. That exhibition was years in the making and required many loans of large sculptural pieces which can be difficult to manage. Planned while Duncan Phillips was in his late 70s, his wife Marjorie played an active role in the securing of loans, writing many letters to museums as well as prominent collectors such as William and Babe Paley and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. Assisting with locating works in both public and private collections, the Pierre Matisse Gallery provided Marjorie Phillips with the lists below, which were thoroughly annotated as the exhibition planning proceeded.

Works by Albert Giacometti in public and private collections as listed by Pierre Matisse Gallery for the Phillips Collection.  The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington DC.

Works by Alberto Giacometti in public and private collections as listed by Pierre Matisse Gallery for The Phillips Collection. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington, DC.

The result was a beautiful and popular show. The Phillipses remarked that they were so pleased, they wished it could remain as a permanent part of the museum.

Giacometti exhibition, 1963. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington DC.

Giacometti exhibition, 1963. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington, DC.

Giacometti exhibition, 1963. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington DC.

Giacometti exhibition, 1963. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington, DC.

 

Treasures by Arthur Hall Smith

A plate from Arthur's handmade book for the Phillipses showing visiting nuns admiring Matisse's Studio, Quai Saint-Michel, 1916.

A plate from Arthur’s handmade book for the Phillips’s showing visiting nuns admiring Matisse’s Studio, Quai Saint-Michel. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington D.C.

Arthur Hall Smith was a beloved employee during his tenure at The Phillips Collection, from 1960-1974. In 1960, the Phillips expanded into an annex which generated the need for more staff. In an oral history, Smith recalled interviewing for the job: “I bought a new pair of shoes and I went out to the Phillips’s house for the interview… they showed me a model of the new building and where they wanted to place me, which was the second floor because it had the Renoir, the Bonnards–really the ‘high rent place’ and he [Duncan Phillips] thought I would be a good welcoming presence there.” Arthur’s welcoming presence and French speaking ability made him a frequent guest at the home of Duncan and Marjorie Phillips, and unofficial translator for tours and foreign visitors to the museum.

Arthur made the Phillips’s a miniature book for Christmas one year, with depictions of the Phillips house with people, including two nuns, looking at paintings in the collection. During the major Cézanne exhibition in 1971, Smith went to a nearby “head shop” which sold pipes and other drug paraphernalia. The store also sold all kinds of buttons, so Smith got thirty of them and painted them ochre with a hand-painted Braque bird and the word “Staff,” and finished them with a heavy lacquer.

Handmade staff buttons

Handmade staff buttons. The Phillips Collection Archives, Washington D.C.

Arthur died in February of 2013 in Paris, France, where he lived for many years. A transcript of his oral history interview is available in the library.

Talking baseball in December. Why not?

Marjorie Phillips, Giants vs. Mets, 1964, Oil on canvas 36 1/4 x 42 in.; 92.075 x 106.68 cm.. Gift of the artist, 1984. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.

I was drawn into Marjorie Phillips’s Giants vs Mets (1964) not only for its outstanding perspective and subject matter (her baseball paintings are among my very favorites at The Phillips Collection) but also for the unique moment in the game that she chose to capture.  Since there is no scoreboard featured we cannot distinctly determine the exact point in time or the score of the game, but we see runners at second and third, which presents a scoring opportunity for the team at-bat.  The right-handed hitter (determined by the positioning of his follow-through) has just made contact with the ball, as we see several players looking skyward.  However, the runners at second and third are not actively sprinting towards their destinations, and the player in left field is actively locating the ball in the air.

Doing some further research, this particular game may have been the May 31, 1964 game between the San Francisco Giants at the New York Mets.  They played a double-header, San Francisco taking the first game 5-3 and also the second, marathon-length 7 hour and 23 minute game by a score of 8-6.  That second game lasted 23 innings and New York tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring 3 runs to force the extra innings.  Joe Christopher was at bat for the Mets and he hits right-handed, driving in a home run to left-field/center-field to bring home Roy McMillan from third base and Frank Thomas from second base.

See what Duncan and Marjorie likely saw on their visit to Shea Stadium for Mets vs Giants: