Seeing Differently: Grandma Moses, Gifford Beal, and Georgia O’Keeffe

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?

Grandma Moses, Hoosick Falls in Winter, 1944, Oil on hardboard, 19 3/4 x 23 3/4 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1949

Sleepy Town Covered in Snow

As Robert Frost said, “Whose woods are these?” As the sun is rising and brightening the winter sky, we begin to see the town of Hoosick Falls. When we look, what do we see? Do we see a sleepy American town peacefully waking up to snow? As we stand on top of the mountain looking down at the town, we see multi-colored houses surrounding a winding river. We see church steeples and a railroad stop. Is this the last stop? Who is getting on? What has arrived? Are we taken back to a simpler time? There are no streetlights or cars. Can we finally conclude, “Whose woods are these?”

Stephanie Romano, Graduate Student, University of Maryland, Education and Curriculum Instruction


Gifford Beal, Waterfall, Haiti, 1954, Oil and egg tempera on canvas, 36 x 36 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1955

It looks like someone found their oasis. When I look at this painting, I get an overwhelming sense of relief that someone is finally showing the beautiful side of countries usually associated with poverty. Growing up in the US, all I would see about Africa, where my family had come from, were commercials of people starving, not to mention the textbooks about African slavery and poverty making you believe that’s the only side of the large continent. When I went to West Africa, specifically Gambia, for the first time I got to see the truth—it was beautiful. This piece triggered the emotion I felt when I got to experience the sun setting on the ocean from Africa’s coast for the first time in my life.

What do you see?

Abdul Sallah, Sophomore, University of Maryland, Studio Art Major


Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Hills, Lake George, 1927, Oil on canvas, 27 in x 32 in., The Phillips Collection, Acquired 1945

Looking at this painting makes me feel like I am being transported into a surreal dream. It feels like you can step directly into it and soak up the sun’s abundant energy. A subtle glow creates a winding pathway through the rolling hills, leading you on an unknown journey. It feels like you can get lost along the way, not knowing where the turns lead or what lies ahead. You know you should not stare directly into the sun, but you are drawn to do so anyway. The sun illuminates the sky with its multiple halos radiating all around, sending signals out into the universe. It pulls you toward its center with an inescapable force. This painting depicts a natural everyday occurrence, but it feels so otherworldly. It shows nature’s beauty and how every sunrise and sunset are uniquely extraordinary.

MacKenzie Airey, Sophomore, University of Maryland, Studio Art Major

The Phillips Collects: Anna Walinska

The Phillips Collection is excited to welcome into the collection two paintings by Anna Walinska: Self-Portrait (c. 1950) and Odalisque & Friend (1951). A prolific American artist and indefatigable promoter of the art of her contemporaries, Walinska was engaged in vanguard activities in New York and Paris. Her work and life story span the 20th century and three continents. This generous gift comes to the Phillips from the artist’s estate and her niece, Rosina Rubin.

Anna Walinska (1906-1997) enrolled at the Art Students League in 1918 at the age of 12. In 1926, she went to Paris to study with André Lhote and exhibited at the Salon des Independents. In 1935 Walinska became a curator for the Federal Art Project and founded the Guild Art Gallery in New York City at 37 West 57th Street, where she gave Arshile Gorky his first New York solo show. Her works are in the collection of the Jewish Museum, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Denver Art Museum.

Anna Walinska, Self Portrait, c. 1950, Charcoal and oil on board, 23 x 19 ½ in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Rosina Rubin

Anna Walinska, Odalisque & Friend, 1951, Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Rosina Rubin

Seeing Differently: Louis Faurer and Francisco José de Goya

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. What would you write about these artworks?

Louis Faurer, Times Square, N.Y. (Home of the Brave), 1950/printed 1981, Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 in., The Phillips Collection, Gift of Steve LaMantia, 2013

When I first looked at this photograph, the large scale and foreground placement of the words “Home of the Brave” reminded me of our National Anthem. As a music teacher, I have guided hundreds of students through the performance of this song. Noticing the people in the photograph focused solely on those words brought memories of my students singing the last line with strength and pride. Francis Scott Key was documenting a moment in history with his poem. He knew the power of language—how these four words would represent the sacrifice of many in the 1814 Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which Key watched while on a nearby ship. It made me wonder what those words meant to the artist who focused on them so prominently. What do they mean to me today? What do those words mean to you?

—Julianne Martinelli, Music Teacher & Arts Program Coordinator, Grades K-5, Edward M. Felegy Elementary School

Francisco José de Goya, The Repentant St. Peter, c. 1820-c. 1824, Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 25 1/4 in., Acquired 1936

Whenever I think of Peter—repentant or otherwise—I feel grateful that such a complex and flawed human being should be named the “rock” on which Jesus anchored his radical new way of moving through the world. It’s easy to assume that Peter, as depicted here, is repenting the cowardice of denying Christ three times in the hours before his execution. But I see an entire history of friendship and forgiveness captured in this portrait. This, after all, is the man who saw Jesus walk on water, then attempted to do the same, only to fail through lack of faith. This is the man who asked Jesus if he should forgive someone seven times, and learned that he should forgive “seventy times seven.” Thus the repentant St. Peter, while in deep sorrow, already knows that he is forgiven.

—Rev. Norman Allen