Adolph Gottlieb, Labyrinth #1, 1950, Oil and sand on canvas, 36 x 48 in., Collection of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, New York © Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Inspired by this playlist for Adolph Gottlieb’s Labyrinth #1 (1950), Executive Director of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Sanford Hirsch wrote in with his own musical interpretation. Of his selection, Hirsch says “Gottlieb didn’t have any music in his studio, but he did have a good collection of records at home. Using those as a starting point, here are a few selections from around the same time as Labyrinth was painted and from musicians Gottlieb listened to. And since Gottlieb was dedicated to abstraction, titles don’t add or detract from meaning.”
If you’re feeling similarly inspired, you can create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org; we may feature it on our blog and social media.
Mark Tobey, Night Flight, 1956, Tempera on cardboard, 11 7/8 x 9 in., Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, Beyeler Collection © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
“You can’t just look at Klees. They must be absorbed on multiple levels.”—Mark Tobey
One of the older members of the Abstract Expressionist circle, Mark Tobey had a special relationship with Paul Klee that stemmed from his strong grounding in Asian calligraphy and aesthetics. His study of Chinese calligraphy and philosophy (first from a Chinese student in Seattle and later while living in a Zen monastery in Kyoto), combined with his Bahá’í faith, led to his development of a delicate, linear calligraphic style. Tobey applied his signature “white writing” technique in his mesmerizing Night Flight. Using densely layered networks of white pigment against a dark ground, Tobey creates lines suggestive of nocturnal energy and movement.
This work is on view in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee through May 6, 2018.
Taking inspiration from the major theme of music in Ten Americans: After Paul Klee, we paired 11 staff members with 11 works from the exhibition and asked them to create a playlist in response to their individual artwork. Kathryn Rogge, Manager of Academic Programs & Phillips Music, created her playlist in response to Gene Davis’s “Black Flowers.”
Gene Davis, Black Flowers, 1952, Oil on hardboard, 36 1/8 x 24 1/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Anonymous gift, 1974 © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Black Flowers got me thinking about polyphonics (multiple voices), with each of the flower stems stretching vertically like an individual voice raising to the sky in song. While polyphonic texture extends to ancient and sacred music from all over the world, it may be found in any composition with overlapping melodies in counterpoint. The “voices” in a polyphonic piece can either be sung by a single voice in overlapping recordings (like Mouth’s Cradle), multiple voices (a whopping 40 voices appear in Spem in Alium) or played on instruments (such as Fables of Faubus); or in this case, painted into the long, slender stems of Gene Davis’s black flowers to create a tension and rising movement evocative of the songs on this list.
Kathryn Rogge, Manager of Academic Programs & Phillips Music
Feeling inspired? Create your own playlist based around works in the exhibition and send it to us at email@example.com and we may feature it on our blog and social media.