#SpinePoetry for National Poetry Month: Part I

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we asked Phillips staff to venture to The Phillips Collection Library and (literally) compile books into stacks—turning the titles into cohesive poems. Marketing and Communications Intern Joelle Levinas kicked us off with this series of spine poems relating to the museum.

joelle-levinas_art in our time

Photo: Joelle Levinas

 

Art In Our Time
The Expanded Eye
Invisible Colors
Parallel Visions
Fast Forward
Art of Our Time

 

 

 

 

 

joelle-levinas_what is art

Photo: Joelle Levinas

 

What Is Art?
Places of Delight
Color and Meaning
Forms of Passion
Making Choices
Feeding Desire
Making Paradise
Fixing the World

 

 

 

 

joelle-levinas_collections

Photo: Joelle Levinas

 

Museum Collection(s)
Landscape with Figure
Modernism
Action/Abstraction
Portraits
Color and Culture
Impressionism
The Phillips Collection

 

 

 

 

Check back for more poems this month! Compile your own and share them on Twitter and Instagram with #spinepoetry.

Postman Poetry

Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Joseph Roulin, 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 3/8 x 21 3/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rosenberg, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Armand P. Bartos, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Werner E. Josten, and Loula D. Lasker Bequest (all by exchange). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art /Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of Joseph Roulin, 1889. Oil on canvas, 25 3/8 x 21 3/4 in. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rosenberg, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Mr. and Mrs. Armand P. Bartos, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, Mr. and Mrs. Werner E. Josten, and Loula D. Lasker Bequest (all by exchange). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art /Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

 

One of van Gogh’s closest friends when he lived in Arles was Joseph Roulin, who worked for the local post office. Van Gogh executed six paintings and three drawings of Roulin between 1888 and 1889. The artist thought so highly of Roulin that he confessed in a letter to his brother Theo, “I don’t know if I will be able to paint the Postman as I feel him.”

How would you choose to represent one of your closest friends or family member? How would you emphasize how they make you feel and what they mean to you?

We’ve been asking visitors to use haiku, a Japanese 17 syllable poem.

Title: Person’s name
Line 1: 5 syllables describing how you know him or her
Line 2: 7 syllables describing what he or she looks like
Line 3: 5 syllables describing how you feel about him or her

Graduate Intern Beth Rizley Evans wrote one about her sister to help inspire you.

Cassandra
Sister, doctor, friend
We look like repetitions
She laughs at my jokes

Proud of your work? Share your haiku on Twitter and tag it #vangoghhaiku.

I Challenge You to a Kelly Haiku

Even as a museum educator and art historian, I struggle sometimes with understanding abstract works of art. A lack of subject matter, figures, and rational forms can be intimidating and at times even overwhelming. So, recently I challenged myself during my noon Spotlight Talk to discuss some of the most abstract works on view at the Phillips right now in Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004–2009.  I was inspired by a quote of Kelly’s: “Time is important in art, and sometimes art takes time to reveal itself.” I figured if I took time to engage with works I hardly understood, perhaps they would reveal themselves to me.

I posed this challenge to my tour group and they obliged by looking closely, sharing their observations, and finally drafting a haiku based on their favorite painting in the exhibition. Haiku are a traditional Japanese 17 syllable poem. Our haiku used the following format and Post-It notes to create simple yet powerful explanations of Kelly’s works.

Ellsworth Kelly,Yellow Relief over Red, 2004. Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly

Title: One word describing the mood
Line 1: 5 syllables describing the color
Line 2: 7 syllables describing the shape
Line 3: 5 syllables describing the lines

Here are some of our haiku’s.

Tangy
Electric yellow
Those rectangles overlap
Tight and neat, so crisp
By: Margaret Collerd

 

Difference
It’s orange or red
Is it rectangle or square?
connected as one
By: Amy Truong

 

Ellsworth Kelly, Purple Curve in Relief, 2009 Private collection. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, courtesy the artist. © Ellsworth Kelly

Vortex
Red black blue green train
Squared rectangles even
Horizons kiltered
By: Anonymous

 

Indigo
Strong purple and white
Oblong with a subtle curve
That should be a line
By: Marvin

 

Propulsion
Movement to the right
Rectangle on rectangle
Angles on angles
By: Karen

 

Interested in writing your own Kelly inspired haiku? Join us Thursday, Sept. 5 at Kelly’s Colors Phillips after 5 and create your own Post-It poetry to share or tweet your haiku as a tweetku and tag it #tweetku and #kellyscolors!

Margaret Collerd, Public Programs and In-Gallery Interpretation Coordinator