Amélie, Batman, and Gabriel Allon: My Favorite Phillips Pop Culture Moments

Flipping through the latest Crate and Barrel catalogue, I noticed under the tony leather ottoman a familiar looking book. In fact, it’s one I have at work and home: the exhibition catalogue for Calder Miro.

Crate&Barrel catalogue with Calder Miro exhibition catalogue, Spring 2011

I suspect I noticed this detail since it has personal meaning for me; I work at the Phillips and the first exhibition I gave tours of was Calder Miro. But I can’t get over how often I see the museum, the collection, and exhibitions mentioned in my life outside of work.

Here are some of my favorite pop culture references to the Phillips:

1. Amélie. This one of my favorite movies and, in my opinion, one of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s best films (though Delicatessen is a close second).  Where’s the Phillips reference? Remember her neighbor, the man with the brittle bones who paints and repaints an artwork every year? Well—he was painting Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party!

2. Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. My dad loves mysteries, and he pointed out to me that Silva often refers to the Phillips in his books. In The Messenger, Silva introduces Sarah Bancroft, a fictional curator, who works at the museum and reappears in a number of other Gabriel Allon books. In his latest novel, The Rembrandt Affair, the art thief Maurice Durand muses how he once considered stealing Luncheon of the Boating Party from the museum’s walls!

Cover for Daniel Silva's The Messenger (Signet, 2006). Note the yellow highlight on page 141. It mentions the Phillips!

3. Batman—that’s right—Batman! I’m generally more of a Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight fan than the Tim Burton kind, but I’ll admit, I was excited when I rewatched the 1989 film and noticed a link to the Phillips. Remember the scene where Jack Nicholson’s Joker enters a museum with his crew and vandalizes artwork? He takes a brush and paints “Joker was here” on a reproduction of one of the Phillips’s paintings by Edward Hopper, Approaching a City.

So, I’m curious, have you seen the Phillips mentioned in popular culture? Please let me know by commenting on this post. I’m collecting these references in the hopes of writing “Part 2: Your Favorite Phillips Pop Culture Moments!”