Portrait of Americana: Night Baseball

Marjorie Phillips, Night Baseball, 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 36 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1951 or 1952

Marjorie Phillips, Night Baseball, 1951. Oil on canvas, 24 1/4 x 36 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the artist, 1951 or 1952

My favorite work from The Phillips Collection’s permanent collection is Marjorie Phillips’s 1951 oil painting, Night Baseball. There is something nostalgic about the way Phillips represents a night at Griffith Stadium. This visual representation of the moment just before the pitch is thrown evokes all of the other senses. When I look at this painting, I hear the buzz of the crowd and I feel the wind push my skin as the breeze ushers in the smells of the ballpark. Phillips masterfully depicts a night sky that is black but somehow simultaneously glowing from the stadium lights—an effect that is familiar to anyone who has been to a nighttime sports game.

Night Baseball is an enduring snapshot of American life. Perhaps my favorite thing about this piece is its current placement within the museum: on a wall adjacent to the landing of a staircase; the location seems almost incidental. I think its placement adds to its charm—Night Baseball endears itself to the viewer by immersing her in a sensory-rich, familiar American scene.

Lizzie Moore, Marketing & Communications Intern

Finding a Match in Gjon Mili

Pousttchi with Gjon Mili Ford Car

Intersections artist Bettina Pousttchi (right) with Phillips Collections Care Manager Laura Tighe (left)

Bettina Pousttchi stopped by earlier this month to consider works from the museum’s permanent collection to display with her own in her upcoming Intersections installation opening in June. Five of Pousttchi’s Double Monuments will be on view with a selection of the Phillips’s photographs, including the above image by Gjon Mili, Ford Car Being Driven through Deep Water at Ford Test Site, Detroit, MI (ca. 1948).

The Changing Painting: Interview with Dove Bradshaw, Part 2

In anticipation of her installation of her work Contingency on Wall at the Phillips, artist Dove Bradshaw sat down with Phillips blog manager Amy Wike to discuss her artistic process. Read Part 1 here.

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Dove Bradshaw installing Contingency on Wall (2016) at the Phillips. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Amy Wike: It’s interesting that you’re talking about how your different forms of media relate to each other, but also you’ve talked about how your work relates back to your work from much earlier on.

Dove Bradshaw: Decades. For the first time this year, I am using materials that could not have been used for thousands of years. Everything else I used was salt, silver, linen, canvas—materials that had been around since antiquity. But 3D-printing, resin—no . . . . The show I have on now called Unintended Consequences . . . includes bullets that are 3D-printed from the same .38 caliber bullets that I collected about 35 to 36 years earlier (I had made them into earrings). I had not done anything with bullets since, and once 3D-printing became viable, I blew them up to 25–30 inches and surfaced them with white gold, aluminum, bronze, lemon gold, black rubber, and so on. They are shown with these paintings that are silver leaf with organic matter and in some cases, the marriage between the paintings and the sculpture is very close because it looks like some of this abstract imagery that’s on the paintings.

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Dove Bradshaw installing Contingency on Wall (2016) at the Phillips. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

AW: Back to what is being shown here: Contingency on Wall is part of a larger series, the Contingency series. Could you talk a bit about the series and how this work that’s on view at the Phillips fits into it?

DB: The word “contingency” came from the activity of silver; as I said, it’s contingent on light, air, and humidity, and [I use] this chemical which speeds it up and alters it irrevocably; it won’t look that way with just light and air and humidity, it makes marks and distinguishes the foreground and the background.

I got the title from John Cage’s 15 ingredients for a composition presented as part of his Norton lectures, which would relate very much to any artistic practice. Some of the words Cage used were contingency, indeterminacy, notation, discipline, performance . . . so I had gone through this list and used as titles about half the words he used as titles, and “contingency” worked very well for the paintings. Then I’ll give identifiers: Contingency [Snowmelt], for instance, just identifies that this particular painting was out in the snow for a while.

AW: My last question: you mentioned Piet Mondrian, John Cage; are there any other artists who inform your work?

DB: Dalí was a huge early influence, still love him—amazing creativity, completely unfettered, even met him—flirted with me! Though he must have done that with a lot of young girls. But I wouldn’t say that he’s an influence anymore. I would say Duchamp was a major influence, the permission that he gave.

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Dove Bradshaw installing Contingency on Wall (2016) at the Phillips. Photo: Rhiannon Newman