Welcoming Nara Park and Ellington Robinson to the Collection

Ellington Robinson (left) and Nara Park (right) discuss their work at the Phillips

Ellington Robinson (left) and Nara Park (right) discuss their work at the Phillips

On Thursday, August 23, the Phillips welcomed Nara Park and Ellington Robinson to discuss their artworks which were recently acquired by the museum through the Contemporaries Acquisition Fund. The artworks were selected for acquisition by the Contemporaries Steering Committee, with the guidance of Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenović and the approval of the Director.

The Contemporaries Acquisition Fund was established in 1996 as a way to create deeper engagement with young professionals with philanthropic aspirations and interest in contemporary art and collecting. By participating first-hand in the museum acquisition process, young patrons gain experience in collecting practices while also helping expand the Phillips’s permanent holdings. Active through 2008, the Fund amassed more than 20 works of art—mostly photography—that date from the early to mid-20th century. The Fund was reinstated in 2017 with an aim to further grow the collection with contemporary artworks.

Visit the Phillips to see the new works along with photographs acquired by the Contemporaries over the years. For information about the Contemporaries—the Phillips’s young professionals group—visit PhillipsCollection.org/contemporaries or contact membership@phillipscollection.org.

Nara Park, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenović, and Ellington Robinson

Left to right: Nara Park, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenović, and Ellington Robinson. Photo: Ray A. Llanos, 2018 (All rights reserved. ray@rayllanos.com @rayllanos)

Disillusioned I by Nara Park

Nara Park, Disillusioned I, 2017, Plastic laminate and monofilament, 105 x 13 1/2 x 13 1/2 in. Contemporaries Acquisition Fund, 2018

Never Forget On Ice by Ellington Robinson

Ellington Robinson, “Never Forget” on Ice, 2013, Acrylic, collage, found objects, and glue on vintage mirror, 38 x 53 x 2 in. Contemporaries Acquisition Fund, 2018

The Phillips Collects: Ruth Duckworth

Ruth Duckworth, Untitled, 1989

Ruth Duckworth, Untitled, 1989, Porcelain, 15 1/2 x 7 7/8 x 3 in. Gift of Jane and Arthur Mason, 2016

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Ruth Duckworth (b. Hamburg, Germany 1919-d. Chicago, 2009) is recognized as one of the most innovative and important modernist sculptors. Although she began her career in Liverpool and London by exploring stone and wood carving, as well as metal casting, she ultimately decided to focus on ceramics in the mid-1950s. Her facility with clay led her to stoneware and porcelain, creating vessels and sculptures that were radically freeform, organic, and liberated from function. Most importantly, she demonstrated that clay was a viable medium for sculpture.

The Duckworth sculpture recently gifted to The Phillips Collection is an unglazed porcelain tabletop work from 1989. It is the first work by this pioneering modernist sculptor to enter the museum. Duckworth has been called an “alchemist of abstraction” whose prolific body of work in ceramics, stoneware, and bronze is boundary-crossing in its material innovation and visually seductive in its austere refinement of form. Her smooth forms have been influenced by both the stylized modernisms of Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi, and Isamu Noguchi, as well as ancient Egyptian, Mexican, and Cycladic art.

In her studio Duckworth had what she called her “play table” where she would begin every day using the parts of abstracted forms already sanded to the desired translucency. The Duckworth sculpture gifted to the Phillips is a unique object composed of two “blades.” Mounted vertically on a base, one slightly in front of the other, there is a sense of poised interaction between the two similar, yet different slab-like forms, with the shadow between an active linear element. Approaching clay as a sculptor, rather than as a potter, Duckworth brought aesthetic rigor to her work that masterfully continues the aesthetics of modernism into the 21st century.

Sculpture on the Move

UMD Appel installation 1_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland. All photos: Sarah Corley

You might notice that the large, colorful sculpture from the corner of 21st and Q Streets, NW, is gone. This work, The Elephant by Karel Appel, has found a new home at the University of Maryland! Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the move and installation; check back for a video.

UMD Appel installation 2_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 3_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 4_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 5_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 6_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 7_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.

UMD Appel installation 8_Sarah Corley

Installing Karel Appel’s The Elephant at the University of Maryland.