The Intersection of Art and Music: An Immersive Experience in Linling Lu’s Soundwaves

Marketing and Communications Detail Amity Chan shares her experience in Linling Lu‘s Soundwaves, on view through April 30.

Linling Lu’s Soundwaves, the first Intersections project of 2023, is a response to Philip Glass’s Etude no. 16 played on piano by Timo Andres during a Phillips Music program in 2015. Trained as a pianist from a young age, Lu uses her knowledge of classical piano and music theory to explore the intersection of art and music in this exhibition. Soundwaves features Lu’s collection of 12 circular paintings, each representing a note played by Andres on the piano. Linking art and music together, Lu offers the ultimate meditative experience.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by a life-sized circular painting that transports them to the world of music. Looking to the left, six additional life-sized circular paintings are displayed on the wall as parts of the seven notes played by the pianist’s left hand. While on the right wall, five paintings of varied sizes are installed as a hand shape to represent the five notes played by the right hand. Despite the absence of a piano, the entire gallery space feels like a massive piano. As viewers, we are standing inside the piano enveloped by Andres’s performance.

As Lu mentioned in an interview, “If you read a book a hundred times, you can read something behind the texts. I think for painting, it has the same process.” In Soundwaves, Lu’s paintings mirror the repetitive phrases in Glass’s Etude no. 16 with the use of recurring circular patterns. The gradient circles on the twelve canvases resemble the pressure from the fingertips, slowly wrapping the viewers in the musician’s hands as they tap on piano keys. This leads to a thought-provoking question: who is the real musician here? Is it Lu, Timo Andres, or Phillips Glass?

Lu’s art practice centers around the concept of repetition, and this exhibition is no exception. The experience of Soundwaves is designed to be savored over time. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind immersive exhibition, and be sure to bring your earphones so you can listen to Glass’s music while you savor!

Seeing Differently: Henri Matisse and Berenice Abbott

The Phillips Collection engages with local voices by asking community members to write labels in response to works in the collection. Read some here on the blog and also in the galleries of Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century. How do these perspectives help you see differently? What would you write about these artworks?

Henri Matisse, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948, Oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35 1/8 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1950

“Would not it be best to leave room to mystery?” I think of this quote by Henri Matisse when I stand in front of one of his artworks about “room” or “space.” Whenever I look at this artwork, I cannot help but wonder: Who does this room belong to? Who is the woman? What is she thinking lying on the couch? What is in the space not shown in the painting? Matisse is right—it is good to leave some room for mystery.

Matisse said: “A certain blue enters your soul. A certain red has an effect on your blood pressure.” Notice Matisse’s use of color. Imagine standing in this studio. What do you feel as you look at this artwork?

—Xiran Liu, Visitor Experience Intern, The Phillips Collection


Berenice Abbott, Canyon: Broadway and Exchange Place, 1936, Gelatin silver print, 9 3/8 x 7 1/2 in. Gift of the Phillips Contemporaries, 2001, The Phillips Collection

Imagine being a worm (or creature close to the ground) and looking up in the city. What do you see? In New York City, with all the tall buildings, we each have a worms-eye view of the city as we constantly look up at the towering skyscrapers.

When I think of New York City, I think of the crowds of people and the inability to stop time. And yet this artist so beautifully captures the stillness and power of the buildings of New York and the conversation among them. The scene is at Exchange Place downtown. What exchange might these three buildings be having with each other?

Place yourself in the scene of the photograph. On the street, looking up. What does this photograph tell you about the city?

—Joanne Selig, Director of Education and Theatre for Change, Imagination Stage