The Music Room: And in this corner…

Music Room corner post_Emily Hurwitz

The Music Room. Photo: Emily Hurwitz

One of the great things about The Phillips Collection is that even though the space is stationary, the art is not. I started my internship at the Phillips about a month ago. On one of my first journeys through the collection, I found myself staring at The Repentant St. Peter by El Greco, which was then on display in the Music Room. The dark browns of the painting’s background perfectly complemented the rich wood paneling of the room, which made the bright yellows and blues draped around the figure himself seem especially vibrant. He is a contemplative figure, filled with emotion. What a perfect fit for a Music Room—a place that can in and of itself inspire quiet and emotional contemplation, while simultaneously bursting with the vibrancy of a musical work.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I ventured back into the Music Room a few weeks later and found not St. Peter, but Georges Rouault’s Verlaine. And imagine my further surprise when I realized that that painting was also a perfect fit for this corner of the Music Room: not because of the stark background and emotive figure, but because of the brush strokes that captured an almost musical movement, and the figure that seemed like he himself was listening intensely to someone—or something—just outside of the frame. The context of a painting really can inspire an entirely new conversation about the work, and the feeling of the room itself can change depending on what is staring back at you from these walls.

Emily Hurwitz, Marketing and Communications Intern

Congenial Spirits: Cirque Series Meets Migration Series

(Left) Georges Rouault, Cirque de l'étoile filante, Plate XV: Les Ballerines, printed 1938. Color etching and aquatint on paper, 12 3/8 x 8 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1939 (Center) Georges Rouault, Cirque de l'étoile filante, Plate XVI: Auguste, printed 1938. Color etching and aquatint on paper, 12 3/8 x 8 5/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1939. (Right) Georges Rouault, Cirque de l'étoile filante, Plate XVII: Dors, mon amour, printed 1938. Color etching and aquatint on paper, 12 3/8 x 8 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1939. Photo: Amy Wike

After bidding adieu to Allan deSouza’s The World Series, the empty gallery space has been filled with French fauvist Georges Rouault‘s Cirque de L’Étoile Filante (Circus of the Shooting Star). Just as deSouza’s work elicited an interesting dialogue when viewed next to Lawrence’s series, the neighboring gallery again provides visitors with a thought-provoking comparison. Similar in certain aspects (format, year created, size), the two series differ greatly in content and method.

Several of Rouault’s panels include tutuclad circus performers, adding a playful foil to Degas’s ballet dancers just a few galleries away.

Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series and Georges Rouault's Cirque de L'Étoile Filante create an interesting conversation in neighboring galleries. Photo: Amy Wike

A Conversation on The Coronation

Nicholas and Sheila Pye, still from The Coronation, 3-channel video/still 2008. Courtesy of the Curator's Office and Nicholas and Sheila Pye.

Museum volunteer Gerry Hendershot and Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Leinberger discuss The Coronation by Nicholas and Sheila Pye. The three-panel video work is installed in a gallery with Georges Rouault’s Tragic Landscape (from our permanent collection), creating a dialogue between the works in the latest installment of the Intersections series. It is on view through May 8.

Gerry: I believe I have decoded the Pye installation. It’s based on a 15th century altarpiece by Jan van Eyck.

Lisa: You are so right!

Hubert van Eyck, completed by Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece, c. 1423-32 (Ghent, St. Bavo)

Gerry: Rouault described himself as “a Gothic artist… Preoccupied with sinister backgrounds and besetting sins,” which abound in both the Van Eyck and Pye pieces. I saw that altarpiece years ago, and it surfaced to my consciousness when I saw the Pye triptych. Continue reading