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” »

Law and Order: Phillips Edition

Ever been to a dinner party in Washington, D.C. and not met an attorney or someone who went to law school? Wonder what happens when people leave law school behind in favor of artistic vocations?

CakeLove’s Warren Brown stopped practicing law in 2002 to start a bakery, and the Pink Line Project’s Chief Creative Contrarian Philippa Hughes also worked as a lawyer and lobbyist until 2003. I’m sure there are scores of other creatives who’ve joined the ex-lawyer club.

Washington, D.C. takes the legal cake in this map of U.S. career concentration by city from Richard Florida's 2008 book "Who's Your City."

Several artists included in The Phillips Collection initially set out to become lawyers. Here are a few notables; I think art history is glad they changed career paths! Continue reading “Law and Order: Phillips Edition” »