Director’s Desk: Same Wavelength

Ogata Korin, Rough Waves, c. 1704-09. Two-panel screen; ink, color, and gold on gilded paper, 57 11/16 x 65 1/8 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fletcher Fund, 1926.

I read the review this morning of the new exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Japan Society in New York of the Japanese Rimpa painters. I couldn’t help but notice the wave images by Ogata Korin and Sakai Hoitsu which made me think of the beautiful paintings currently on view in our Vradenburg Café by the contemporary Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto.

Dorothy Kosinski, Director

Sandra Cinto, One Day, After the Rain, 2012

Fashion’s Night Out

It’s September. A month that prepares me for my favorite time of the year: autumn. Contrary to the artistic trope for which it’s many times used, autumn for me means a fresh start, a new beginning – with some old favorites for comfort, of course. The sights, sounds, scents, and tastes of the fall bring to me just as big a flood of memories as they do an overwhelming sense of hope for the future.

Duncan Phillips on a transatlantic journey, 1920s. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

September is an important month not only for eager parents and educators. It’s a major month for the fashion industry – hearing the “thump” of the Vogue September issue hit the floor outside my front door is a glorious sound. Today is Fashion’s Night Out, an initiative started three years ago by everyone’s favorite editor, Anna Wintour. Originally this annual evening of shopping in September was meant to kick off the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and encourage retail sales for the season. It has since evolved into an amalgamation of charitable events and industry-led celebrity appearances and parties.

What does fashion have to do with the Phillips, you ask? Have you seen pictures of Duncan Phillips? The man knew how to wear a suit. Also (and more importantly), Phillips understood very well how artists’ works can inspire different methods of the creative process.

It’s commonplace  in the world of fashion for designers to credit visual artists for the inspiration behind their collections and for design houses to collaborate with art institutions and foundations. Christian Dior and contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang collaborated for a 2008-09 exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, highlighting periods in the history of fashion. John Galliano included works inspired by the illustrations of french artist René Gruau for Dior’s spring 2011 haute couture collection. Carolina Herrera created a line of wedding gowns as an homage to painters, and later drew upon literary and artistic works.

Most recently, and perhaps most notably, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York collaborated with the design house of Alexander McQueen in a posthumous tribute for Savage Beauty (many argue that Alexander McQueen was one to have blurred the lines between art and fashion).

The Phillips has embraced the impact of art on fashion (and vice versa) in its programming. For our Robert Ryman exhibition last year, we hosted a program in collaboration with Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie featuring designer Jason Wu’s Ryman-inspired line for Tse, and during our Philip Guston exhibition we teamed up again to showcase Italian designs (many in Guston’s pink palette) for a Roman Holiday event.

Fashion’s Night Out in Georgetown runs 6-11pm tonight. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runs September 8-15 in New York’s Bryant Park.

Megan Clark, Manager of Center Initiatives

Summer List

Maurice Prendergast, On the Beach, c. 1907-1909. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 14 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1926.

Last week’s glorious weather inspired me to put together a shortlist of things to read, hear, or see this summer:

To the End of the Land, David Grossman’s haunting novel of love and magical thinking that centers on the emotional struggle of an Israeli mother hiking through the mountainous terrain of Galilee with her son’s estranged father in an ingenuous attempt to keep their son alive while he is on a military offensive in Lebanon by telling his father stories about him.

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. A brilliant first novel of old-world beauty and magic by a surprisingly mature 25-year old, it consists of a series of interwoven stories that take place in a fictional Balkan country and feature, among many other remarkable and wondrous characters, a mute woman who befriends a tiger that has escaped from the zoo and a deathless man who has been condemned to live forever.

Don’t kill the birthday girl! by Washington-based poet and longtime friend of The Phillips Collection, Sandra Beasley. A touching and enlightening memoir of an “Allergy Girl” about learning to live with severe food allergies.

STRATA, the stirring recording of the “Symphony No. 6” by the Estonian contemporary composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, whose music was performed last February as part of the Phillips’s Leading European Composers series (ECM; Nordic Symphonic Orchestra; Anu Tali, conductor).

Rooms with a View at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (on view through July 4), one of the most beautiful exhibitions I have seen in a very long time, exquisitely curated by Sabine Rewald, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Curator in the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Met.

Game of Thrones, a new HBO series based on the epic fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, about the violent struggle for control over the Seven Kingdoms of the northern realm under the background of the arrival of a long winter, which in this world can last several lifetimes and may bring with it unimaginable horrors. In short, the perfect entertainment while we endure the effects of global warming this summer.