Phillips Flashback: Americans in Paris

In preparation for an exciting tribute on June 23 to art collector Roz Jacobs, Associate Curator Wendy Grossman recently dug up a film produced for the 1996 exhibition Americans in Paris held at The Phillips Collection. The exhibition featured the work of four prominent American artists: Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, and Gerald Murphy. The exhibition focused on the artistic output of these artists during the 1920s while they spent time in Paris, frequenting the famous cafes, theaters, and boulevards. Roz Jacobs owned a work by Man Ray that was featured in the exhibition. 

The 18-minute video features remarks by former Phillips curator Dr. Elizabeth Hutton Turner, now of the University of Virginia, emphasizing the innovative nature of the works included in the exhibition, highlighting technological advancements post WWI and the emergence of mass-produced items and advertisements. Man Ray created his “rayographs” by placing objects on photosensitive paper and exposing them to light without the use of a camera. Calder, an engineer by training created three-dimensional sculptures of prominent figures in Paris including Josephine Baker. Stuart Davis envisioned boxy linear streets in his compositions, modernizing the city of Paris in his artistic imagination of it. Gerald Murphy created compositions of popular goods advertised for men including razors, matches, and ballpoint pens.  

This video allows the museum to further contextualize past exhibitions and learn from past practices. Mining and finding stories in the museum archive allows us to also share our history with a new generation of museum goers, especially during the celebration of the museum’s 100-year history. We look forward to sharing more of these great memories with you!

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