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” »
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.
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix. Paganini, 1831. Oil on cardboard on wood panel; 17 5/8 x 11 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection
Paganini (who died on this day 171 years ago) was a macabre man with supernatural abilities, or at least that’s what he’d like you to think! Apparently, he played the violin so well, people thought he had made a deal with the devil. His dark reputation and astonishing skills left people flocking to his concerts, among them the painter Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix who attended Paganini’s Paris debut at the Opéra in 1831. Shortly thereafter, Delacroix created the portrait of Paganini in The Phillips Collection. I love talking about this painting on tours, and I love comparing it to another portrait of Paganini by Delacroix’s contemporary Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres. I think the two different takes are staggering!