(b)logs for the Fire: Part 1

Part of what makes The Phillips Collection unique is that the art on the walls is always rotating. But it is also important to note that some of the residents of the collection do have permanent homes. So permanent, in fact, that they were built right into the walls. Many visitors are perhaps familiar with the ornate and beautiful detailing of the Music Room fire place, but sprinkled throughout the gallery are several others—each with their own unique details, styles, and character. Here a just a few examples of what can emerge if you look closer.

baby detail

This little guy is a permanent resident of the West Parlor. What have those little baby eyes seen through the years?

fleur de lis detail

The repeating fleur de lis-style pattern on these bricks lies underneath a glassy, cracked glaze. From certain angles, you can barely make out the design at all.

Swirl detail

Hidden swirls and circles everywhere! This fireplace has a decorative wrought-iron detail and a textured fireplace interior wall.

Check back tomorrow for more fireplace details.

Emily Hurwitz, Marketing and Communications Intern

The Music Room: And in this corner…

Music Room corner post_Emily Hurwitz

The Music Room. Photo: Emily Hurwitz

One of the great things about The Phillips Collection is that even though the space is stationary, the art is not. I started my internship at the Phillips about a month ago. On one of my first journeys through the collection, I found myself staring at The Repentant St. Peter by El Greco, which was then on display in the Music Room. The dark browns of the painting’s background perfectly complemented the rich wood paneling of the room, which made the bright yellows and blues draped around the figure himself seem especially vibrant. He is a contemplative figure, filled with emotion. What a perfect fit for a Music Room—a place that can in and of itself inspire quiet and emotional contemplation, while simultaneously bursting with the vibrancy of a musical work.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I ventured back into the Music Room a few weeks later and found not St. Peter, but Georges Rouault’s Verlaine. And imagine my further surprise when I realized that that painting was also a perfect fit for this corner of the Music Room: not because of the stark background and emotive figure, but because of the brush strokes that captured an almost musical movement, and the figure that seemed like he himself was listening intensely to someone—or something—just outside of the frame. The context of a painting really can inspire an entirely new conversation about the work, and the feeling of the room itself can change depending on what is staring back at you from these walls.

Emily Hurwitz, Marketing and Communications Intern

“School of Paris” on view in the Music Room

New installation in the Music Room. Photo: Joshua Navarro

New installation in the Music Room featuring the “School of Paris”. Photo: Joshua Navarro

Preparators Alec MacKaye and Bill Koberg install works

Preparators Alec MacKaye and Bill Koberg install Modigliani’s Elena Pvolozky in the Music Room as part of the “School of Paris” installation. Photo: Renee Maurer

 

The music room was recently installed with modern European works from the collection. The paintings featured are by artists who were either born in France or immigrated there to work in Paris during the first half of the twentieth century. A destination for artists of all nationalities, many spent time in the lively Parisian neighborhoods of Montmartre and Montparnasse and experienced thriving and unparalleled creativity. Loosely grouped as the “School of Paris“, these painters experimented with diverse styles and techniques, from Cubism to Expressionism, to convey traditional subjects such as portraiture, landscapes, and still life. This installation includes paintings by André Derain (b. Chatou, France, 1880–d. Garches, France 1954); Maurice Utrillo (b. Paris, 1883–d. Paris, 1955); Amedeo Modigliani (b. Livorno, Italy 1884–d. Paris, 1920); Chaim Soutine (b. Smilovitchi, Lithuania 1893–d. Paris, 1943); and Georges Rouault (b. Paris, 1871–d. Paris, 1958).

Did you ever wonder how works are installed in the music room? Very carefully. Preparators Alec MacKaye and Bill Koberg are shown above on scaffolding in the process of hanging Elena Povolozky (1917) by Modigliani.

Renée Maurer, Assistant Curator