Left Behind: Lernpark #0799

Massimo Vitalli (Italian, b. 1944), Lernpark #0977, 2001. C-print face mounted behind Plexiglas. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 2010. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and the Bonni Bernubi Gallery

See Katie’s previous post on the exhibition Left Behind: selected gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection on view through October 2.

Lernpark #0799 spurred great discussion on my tour of the exhibition Left Behind, a selection of photographs from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection. A striking photograph by Massimo Vitali, the image shows a view over the Volkswagen factory’s Lernpark, an area where children can drive their own miniature Volkswagen cars.

Visitors and I discussed the image as an investigation of contrasts: the size, bright colors, and whimsy of the cars stand against the large, industrial, brown factory. I questioned the visitors as to what in this image is “left behind.” The factory, as a symbol of work, is left behind for the Lernpark, a place for amusement, one suggested. Another felt that we have abandoned our morals by commodifying children’s play. A third felt that people are left behind — factories have become so mechanized that the only place for humans is in such amusement-focused areas. A seemingly simple photograph, Lernpark #0799 drove discussion as we worked through its many potential meanings.

-Katie Klein, Gallery Educator

Left Behind: OmniMax Cinema, Caesar’s Palace, Graveyard Time

Jane and Louise Wilson (British, b. 1967), Omnimax Cinema, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas Graveyard Time, 1999. C-print mounted on aluminum (with plexi box), ed. 1/4 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 inches. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, 2010.

When giving a tour of the installation Left Behind, a selection of photographs from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, I focused on a photograph by Jane and Louise Wilson titled OmniMax Cinema, Caesar’s Palace, Graveyard Time. The large photograph shows the entrance to the Omnimax theater. The red patterned carpet reflects in the shiny ceiling tiles. Two lit staircases flank the doors. The Wilsons photographed Caesar’s Palace, a busy Las Vegas casino, in the middle of the night, absent of people. Where are the tourists, the gamblers? The activity typical of a Las Vegas casino, even during the graveyard shift, is in stark contrast to what we see.

The Wilsons use the emptiness to subvert our expectations and create an eerie feeling.  Summing our discussion of how palpable the absence, a visitor stated, “I think it is me they left behind.”

-Katie Klein, Gallery Educator

A Room Full of Klee

(Left) Paul Klee, Printed Sheet with Picture, 1937. Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 22 1/4 inches. Acquired 1948. (Center) Paul Klee, The Way to the Citadel, 1937. Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard, 26 3/8 x 22 3/8 inches. Acquired 1940. (Right) Paul Klee, Arrival of the Jugglers, 1926. Oil on incised putty on cardboard mounted on cardboard, 6 7/8 x 10 3/4 inches. Acquired 1939.

Duncan Phillips’s Klee Room has been re-created in this upstairs gallery of the original Phillips house. Here’s a glimpse of three of the nine works by Paul Klee, on view now through December 31, in honor of the museum’s 90th anniversary.