Celebrating 100 Years of Connection, Conversation, and Art

America’s First Museum of Modern Art at 100

Dear Friends,

A 100th anniversary is surely a time for joy and celebration, and we look forward to marking this major milestone with exceptional exhibitions and meaningful programs collaboration with our community.

However, at this particular moment in our nation and in our city, we are keenly aware of our museum as part of a vital network of educational institutions that underpin our democracy. Our mission is to use the power of art to spark connection, build empathy, and catalyze ideas. While we are not politically aligned, we are by no means neutral. We have a responsibility to meet this moment, and to play our role in nourishing conversations around urgent topics and encouraging constructive debate.

Our mission is tied to a commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. The dynamism and impact of our next chapter will depend on our capacity to champion women, artists of color, and marginalized voices, to open up the canon of modern and contemporary art and history to artistic expression that reflects our complex world. We are here to serve, engage with, and learn from our community.

This is a moment for reflection, critical examination, and charting new direction. Duncan Phillips founded the museum with tender and lofty ideals: as a place of solace and healing, and as an “experiment station.” How can we live up to those ideas and be truly inclusive and welcoming? How can we remain dynamic and relevant to the art and ideas of our times?

We embrace this challenge as we mark this momentous anniversary, and look forward to welcoming you all to join in the conversations and the celebrations.

Sincerely,
Dorothy Kosinski, Vradenburg Director & CEO

The “X” in Latinx

The Phillips is hosting a book club about Latinx Art by Arlene Dávila on January 21. Fabiola R. Delgado (she/her), a Venezuelan Human Rights Lawyer turned independent curator, creative consultant, and programs specialist, who will be leading the discussion, shares some insights about the book.

Latinx Art

When first introduced to the book Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics by cultural anthropologist and NYU Professor Arlene Dávila, I was eager to know how she defined the term “Latinx” and most specifically the concept of “Latinx art.” While the US American neologism “Latinx” rose in the mid 2000s as a gender-inclusive noun (replacing the binary and genderized Castilian grammatic Latino/Latina), the multivarious nature of what historically has been called a single cultural/ethnic group: Hispanics/Latinos, and the different experiences of those groups in the United States, have prevented the term from reaching its collective identity status outside of academia and cultural influencer circles. In these spaces, Latinx refers to a person of Latin American descent based in the USA (whether immigrant, first, or higher generations), separate from Latin Americans. This is the main distinction to consider when reading the book, because it anchors the author’s perspective through her introduced concept of “national privilege” (a direct connection to Latin American territory). Equally important is the need to read this through a multifocal lens: it’s not about setting one group against another, but recognizing and accusing the race and class disparities evidently displayed in the art world, that position white work as the natural category, and anything other than white as an accessory.

The issue of the art market (amusingly described as the largest informal economy for its lack of transparency and monitoring) favoring art that’s identifiable within the canon of art history, is raised along the claims by some that Latinx art has no specific nationality, geographic location, or visual recognizable characteristics; and though I accept there’s no typical look to what Latinx art is, I press on the first two claims and ask: Is Latinx art not made in America? Is it not American? These positions raise conflicting views of a desire for an art market that’s “separate but equal” or fully integrated. I cannot provide a definite answer, but until we refute the normalization of “American” as white, and contest the “American Art” and “Contemporary Art” identifiers (I would add “Old Masters” to the list), we’ll continue to contemplate and theorize exchanges that only offer initial arguments to dismantle the racist status-quo of the global art market, and instead can motivate the otherization of parallel markets: Black Art, Indigenous Art, Asian Art, Caribbean Art, Latin American Art, and maybe eventually Latinx Art.

The author is clear when she states that Latinx art is a culture making project, rather than a fixed identity, acknowledging the work of artists excluded from both US American and Latin American art history, and reminding us of the permanent state of flux in which Latinx people are perceived (“ni de aquí ni de allá”) in tandem with the riddling case of marketable ethnicity. For this reason, many researchers that explore the art world (or worlds?), art education, image, and identity, including Dávila, refer back to the words of ethnologist Fred Myers: “To imagine conditions of cultural heterogeneity, rather than those of consensus, as the common situation of cultural interpretation.” It is difficult to find any conclusive statement, but I invite readers to continue questioning what’s considered the norm and push for policy changes that will ultimately resound in the collective culture.

In sum, “Identity” is in. “Identifiers,” still a work in progress.

 

Fabiola R. Delgado (she/her) (@call.me.fa.) pursues justice through art and cultural practice, striving for thought-provoking projects that bring forward different perspectives and encourage intergenerational creative learning, after her activism in Venezuela proved too dangerous, forcing her to move to the United States where she currently seeks political asylum. Fabiola has worked with various Smithsonian Institution museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of Asian Art, and the National Museum of American History, the Embassy of Spain, Times Square Arts, Washington Project for the Arts, Latela Curatorial, No Kings Collective, the Center for Book Arts NYC, The Fundred Project along MacArthur Fellow Mel Chin, and the Obama White House.

A Bright and Bold New Century

Happy New Year and Happy Centennial Year to The Phillips Collection!

We are proud to introduce our refreshed logo―made up of bright and bold colors for a fabulous centennial year and beyond.

Our logo, created in 2014, took a cue from Duncan Phillips’s love of color, and was created from a palette drawn from collection favorites―Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81), Mark Rothko’s Orange and Red on Red (1957), El Greco’s The Repentant St. Peter (1600-1605), and Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series Panel no. 1 (1940-41).

Original logo palette inspiration

For the Centennial, we build on our lively and welcoming brand and introduce colors drawn from recent acquisitions that highlight the diversity of our growing collection. Duncan Phillips intended his collection to grow and evolve, and our refreshed palette reflects the energy and excitement of our next century.

Centennial logo variations

The refreshed logo pulls colors from:

  • Sam Gilliam, Purple Antelope Space Squeeze, 1987, Diptych: Relief, etching, aquatint and collagraph on handmade paper with embossing, hand-painting and painted collage, 41 1/2 in x 81 5/8 in., Bequest of Marion F. and Norman W. Goldin, 2017
  • Angela Bulloch, Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation
  • Poul Gernes, Untitled (stripe series with ochre as recurring color), 1965, Enamel paint on Masonite board, 16 panels; 48 x 48 in. each, Acquired in 2019 with support from the Ny Carlsberg Fondet
  • Aolar Mosely, Blocks, c. 1955, Cotton, 75 x 83 in., Museum purchase, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2019
  • Simone Leigh, No Face (Crown Heights), 2018, Terracotta, graphite ink, salt-fired porcelain, epoxy, 20 x 8 x 8 in., Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2018
  • Gene Davis, 65-2, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 58 1/4 x 74 in., Gift of Richard E. Thompson, 2017
  • Janet Taylor Pickett, And She Was Born, 2017, Acrylic on canvas with collage, 30 x 30 in., Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2020

Centennial palette inspiration

Here’s to 100 years of color and 100 more years of collecting!