A Soundtrack for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

Gallery Educator Donna Jonte leads a school tour with Pierre-August Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of my favorite things about working at the Phillips is catching a group of young kids on a school tour. Just the other day, as I was taking notes in the galleries, a small stampede of children all donning the same bright yellow t-shirt came in and sat down in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As they discussed this work, I was taken to places I had never been with it before. First they spent some time talking about the subjects of the work. The children noticed the people, the setting, and different elements such as what food was on the table. But then they went “inside” the painting. Each child demonstrated what sounds they thought they would hear if they were actually in the painting. One said a bee buzzing; another mentioned the dog and how it might be barking, while the woman holding it made “kissy” noises. Others suggested whooshing of the wind, rustling leaves, and the trickling of the water far in the distance. Then, when directed, they all together made these sounds, creating a soundtrack for the work.

Before this encounter, I looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party in a totally different way. I spent time noticing the artist’s talent in making the glass and liquid in the foreground shimmer. I noticed the composition, or the painterly style so common with the impressionists of this time. These kids (and Gallery Educator Donna Jonte, who led the exercise) helped me take a step back and stop obsessing over the pictorial. They helped me to appreciate this work for what it is: a captured moment in time.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Works from Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Phillips’s Walls

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Installation view of BiH Voices: In Conversation with The Migration Series. All photos: Laura Hoffman

In October 2015, Phillips educators spent two weeks in Bosnia and Herzegovina facilitating workshops with emerging artists, students, and educators using Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series as a catalyst for conversation about the power of collaboration and storytelling through art (see pictures from their visit in earlier blog posts). Last week, we hosted a reception for the artworks resulting from these workshops, which will be on view through March 13.

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Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski introduces the exhibition

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Installation view of BiH Voices: In Conversation with The Migration Series

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Deputy Assistant Secretary Hoyt Yee, US Department of State

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Installation view of BiH Voices: In Conversation with The Migration Series

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Minister Counselor (DCM) Adnan Hadrović, Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Washington, DC

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(Left to right) Minister Counselor (DCM) Adnan Hadrović, Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Washington, DC; Director Dorothy Kosinski, The Phillips Collection; Deputy Assistant Secretary Hoyt Yee, US Department of State

Dispatches: Collaboration in Trebinje

Phillips Educators Rachel Goldberg and Andrea Kim Neighbors are in Bosnia facilitating workshops on Prism.K12 and Jacob Lawrence with students, emerging artists, and teachers.

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Artists collaborate during a workshop in Trebinje

Reflecting on our few days in Trebinje, it’s amazing how quickly time flies! Artists in Trebinje created personal responses to Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series and then collaborated in groups of four to tell a story using a theme that was common among them. Some told stories about community and travel, while others explored issues of identity and fear. We held an exhibition opening reception at the Cultural Center and were thrilled at the turnout! Artists talked with family and friends about how much they enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people with shared stories and common interests, and to work and learn in new ways. I’m going to miss this wonderful community of fun and experimental students, but I’m also looking forward to our final workshop in Sarajevo!

Rachel Goldberg, Head of K-12 Initiatives

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Artists collaborate during a workshop in Trebinje

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Artists, family, and friends at an exhibition of the work resulting from workshops based on Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series