How Would You Describe Dancers at the Barre?

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Barre, ca. 1900. Oil on canvas, 51 ¼ x 38 ½ in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1944.

Earlier this week, I started my spotlight tour by asking the group to collectively come up with ten words or phrases to describe Degas’s Dancers at the Barre. Here’s what they shared:

Bright

Childhood

Delicious

Flexible

Floating

Grace

Lonely

Orange

Painful

Stretch

What word would you use? Leave a comment, and let me know.

Take a Longer Look at Painting No. 9

As a gallery educator at The Phillips Collection, I have the pleasure of facilitating tours and conversing with visitors about inspiring artworks in the collection. One of my favorite paintings to discuss is Painting No, 9 (1939-42) by Piet Mondrian. As a non-objective painting composed of primary colors and geometric shapes it is easy to walk past and think “Got it.” However, if you slow down and think about what Mondrian is doing in his art, the painting can take on an entirely new and exciting perspective. While visitors may not become Mondrian converts after our tour conversation, I frequently hear “You know, Mondrian may not be my favorite, but I have a much greater appreciation for what he set out to accomplish.”

Much like a visitor to the museum, I encourage you to slow down, click here and spend a few minutes learning to appreciate the simplicity and idealism of Mondrian.

While looking at the painting, ask yourself:  What do I see? (Literally, what shapes, lines, colors?) Imagine removing or adding an additional line or square of color; how does the artwork change? Look at the relationship between the black lines and the blocks of color; does the black line appear to be consistently above or on top of the color blocks? How does the interplay between the black lines and blocks of color suggest depth? Continue reading “Take a Longer Look at Painting No. 9” »

Overheard in the Galleries: A Pre-K Tour

Photo courtesy Phillips Collection Education Department

Recently I shadowed a school tour of pre-K students and heard one of my favorite descriptions ever of Luncheon of the Boating Party. When the tour leader asked, “How do you feel when you look at this painting?” four-year-old Maria waved her hand in the air anxiously and replied, “When I see that painting I feel cake-y.”

Maria, I couldn’t agree more, that painting makes me feel cake-y, cheerful, and merry too!

We’ll be celebrating that cake-y painting and many others tomorrow at a free 90th Anniversary Birthday Bash, 10 am to 8 pm.