Gabriele Münter

It is time to expose the shocking truth about expressionist Wassily Kandinsky:

Under each of his paintings is the real source: a painting by his fellow Blue Rider founder, Gabriele Münter!

(clockwise from upper left) Wassily Kandinsky, Sketch I for Painting with White Border (Moscow), 1913, 39 1/2 x 30 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; Infrared reflectogram of Sketch I; Infrared reflectogram of Sketch I without the overlay of Kandinsky’s composition; Gabriele Münter, Garden Concert, c. 1911-12, © , 11 1/4 x 14 7/8 in. Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, Munich, Kon. 34/20. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Gotcha! Just kidding.

Current exhibition, Kandinsky and the Harmony of Silence: Painting with White Border, does include a Münter gouache work, Garden Concert, 1912,  that Phillips conservators found under Kandinsky’s Sketch I for Painting with White Border. But the possibility that he might have painted over other works by his former student and lover is actually addressed by Annegret Hoberg, curator at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, in an essay in the exhibition catalogue. She says with certainty that this finding is an isolated case, a conclusion echoed by Phillips Curator Elsa Smithgall. Continue reading “Gabriele Münter” »

Meeting Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Feininger, Waterfront, 1942. Watercolor and black ink on paper, 11 1/2 x 18 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

I hadn’t heard of the artist Lyonel Feininger until I opened the New York Times to see Roberta Smith’s review of the Whitney exhibition, Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World.

Smith brings up what we’re all thinking when we look at the works in the exhibition: the whimsy and color of Chagall, expressiveness of Kandinsky, and maybe even a little Tim Burton meets Pinocchio.

It’s discoveries like this one that inspire me to learn more.

In fact, my colleagues in the library and in conservation pointed out that the Phillips has several works by Feininger. I met our librarian Karen Schneider in the galleries adjacent to our Kandinsky exhibition, hung with expressionist works, to view four beautiful watercolors by the artist. Our conservation fellow Patti Favero then took me backstage (i.e. to storage) to view one of two paintings we have by Feininger, Spook I (pictured below). There’s something adorably amusing about the little jack-o-lantern-like figures with top hats dancing about in the painting. Even the trees seem to be wearing witches hats.

When the leaves begin to change and the weather cools I’ll head to New York to experience the Whitney exhibition. You can, too: At the Edge of the World is on view through October 16 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Megan Clark, Manager of Center Initiatives

Lyonel Feininger, Spook I, 1940. Oil on canvas, 21 x 21 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Dissolving Objects

Wassily Kandinsky, "Painting with White Border (Moscow)," 1913, 55 1/4 x 78 7/8 in. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.245. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Because Kandinsky’s Painting with White Border deserves more than one visit to appreciate it, this past week I returned not once, but twice to hear Spotlight Tours on the painting by Brooke Rosenblatt and Karen Schneider. While both talks were captivating in themselves, what interested me most were the reactions from museum visitors, which I feel embodied Kandinsky’s intention perfectly.

As I listened to the responses of the groups, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu as the separate tours reacted almost identically. Continue reading “Dissolving Objects” »