Meet Me in Montauk

(Left) Reynolds Beal, In the Rips off Montauk, 1928, Drypoint on paper; 8 3/4 x 12 7/8 in. (22.2 x 32.7 cm). Acquisition date unknown. (Right) Rattner, Abraham, Window at Montauk Point, 1943, Oil on canvas; 25 5/8 x 32 in.; 65.0875 x 81.28 cm.. Acquired 1943.

(Left) Reynolds Beal, In the Rips off Montauk, 1928, Drypoint on paper; 8 3/4 x 12 7/8 in. (22.2 x 32.7 cm). Acquisition date unknown. (Right) Rattner, Abraham, Window at Montauk Point, 1943, Oil on canvas; 25 5/8 x 32 in.; 65.0875 x 81.28 cm.. Acquired 1943.

Seems that we have three paintings in the collection that capture Montauk. Reynolds Beal puts us out at sea in the choppy waters. Abraham Rattner keeps us safe inside, looking out at the lighthouse through a window. In Marjorie Phillips’s painting, which was recently hung in the stairwell by the Music Room (often home to her painting, Night Baseball, 1951), we’re high above a natural beach without a structure or another person in sight.

Marjorie Phillips, Montauk Point, circa 1922.

Marjorie Phillips, Montauk Point, circa 1922, Oil on canvas, 18 7/8 x 30 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Bequest of Elmira Bier, 1976. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

 

Beach Escape

Marjorie Phillips, Montauk Point, c. 1922. Oil on canvas, 18 7/8 x 30 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Bequest of Elmira Bier, 1976.

Marjorie Phillips, Montauk Point, c. 1922. Oil on canvas, 18 7/8 x 30 3/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Bequest of Elmira Bier, 1976.

As D.C. continues a gloomy week of winter drizzle, Marjorie Phillips‘s Montauk Point (c. 1922) reminds us of more pleasant days to come. This work was recently placed on view and greets us in the stairwell between Goh Annex and Music Room. If the painting cheers, the effect is intentional; Marjorie said of her work:

“I decided to paint the celebration of the wonder of the world. I didn’t want to paint depressing pictures. . . . That’s why my paintings are all on the cheerful side—I felt it was needed.”

Not only are we reminded of beach days to come, but the painting transports us to the heart of the story that unfolds in upcoming exhibition Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet. Montauk Point State Park lies just beyond East Hampton where Jackson Pollock and Alfonso Ossorio made their homes and cultivated a friendship that inspired great artistic production. In just 24 days, the exhibition brings that world to the Phillips.

Phillips Flashback: January 1925

This painting, known in 1925 as "New York Roof," was part of the first Little Room exhibition. Marjorie Phillips, The City, 1922. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1984.

This painting, known in 1925 as “New York Roof,” was part of the first Little Room exhibition. Marjorie Phillips, The City, 1922. Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1984.

On January 4, 1925, the Sunday Star runs a column by its art critic Leila Mechlin, who reports:

The Phillips Memorial Gallery has extended its exhibition facilities by opening a little gallery in the Phillips residence communicating, up a few steps, with the main gallery in the annex. In this little gallery, which has excellent lighting, are to be installed during the remainder of the season a series of one-man shows to run a fortnight each. The series was inaugurated this week by an exhibition of the recent work of Marjorie Phillips- a good beginning, and one which augurs well for the interest of the plan.

The space, known as the Little Gallery (and later identified as Gallery B), will be used to highlight the work of American artists such as Ernest Lawson, Childe Hassam, Charles Demuth and others. The installation of Marjorie’s work is on view January 4 through 17, 1925.