Chagall’s Jew in Red is a bearded man holding a cane and a bag of belongings. He has been interpreted as Ahasver, the eternal Wandering Jew, or perhaps even Chagall, the displaced artist—a foreigner in his homeland. On the white curtain at left, in Hebrew, Latin, and Cyrillic, are names of artists that Chagall admired in Paris: Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, El Greco, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Jean Fouquet, Vincent van Gogh, Cimabue, Giotto, and Tintoretto.
The International Art and Language Soiree hosted at the Phillips on Thursday, August 16 in collaboration with the International Club of DC provided an incredible atmosphere of cultural infusion. The Tryst at the Phillips café was the perfect meeting place for all who attended, including experienced foreign language speakers and beginners looking to try something new. The native speakers and conversation facilitators led ongoing discussions about their cultures and the variety of works featured at the Phillips produced by artists of their respective cultural backgrounds. For example, the Russian patrons discussed Chagall and Rothko, the Spanish patrons discussed Picasso and Goya, and the French patrons discussed Renoir and Cézanne.
The mood was light and fun, comfortable and relaxed, making it easy to approach any language table and give it a try. Much to my surprise, that is exactly what many of the attendees did. I watched in awe as individuals floated between the Russian table and the German table, the Spanish table and the Italian table. There was minimal emphasis on proficiency in a single language and more emphasis on a friendly interaction with something new. I felt my confidence building as I observed the excitement of all the attendees in this culturally charged environment. Maybe this week I’ll attempt to recall some Spanish from my high school days, or just sit in on the French discussion to assess how much of it I can understand with my minimal background in the romance languages. Either way, the art and language soiree at The Phillips Collection provides an irresistibly welcoming vibe that encourages everyone to join the fun.
To get a feel for how these language and art soirees unfold, check out this video, courtesy of the International Club of DC, which was recorded the night I attended.
Laura McNeil, Graduate Intern for Programs and Lectures