Reflections of the Boating Party

William Willis, Hyena, 1977. Oil on gessoed paper, 50 1/2 x 44 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of Mr. John Naisbitt and Ms. Patricia Aburdene, 1989. Photo: Claire Norman

Every time a painting is hung in a certain position in the museum’s first gallery, it reflects merchandise displayed in the adjacent shop.

For museum assistants stationed in this space, Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party is often closer than we think . . .

The Artist Sees Differently: Martin Paddack

MARTIN PADDACK, museum shop book buyer

Martin Paddack with two of his paintings, Light and Time on the Hudson, (left) and Teardrop, Florence (right). (Photo by Rolf Rykken)

How did you learn about the Phillips?

When I came to the United States as a 10 year old, The Phillips Collection (and the National Gallery of Art) were my very first experiences at art museums. My father took me to the Phillips, and I remember sitting with him in the low light of the Rothko Room and having him tell me to simply look and let my eyes adjust to the color. We sat there for a long time. It was a moment that carried me into another world, that within it held both the memory of where I had just come from (South America and the Caribbean) and a mysterious world of color that was to come. I will never forget it.

Read the rest of Martin’s interview here.

The Object of Some Affection

An Object to Beauty by Steve Martin

Much noise has been made surrounding Steve Martin’s latest book. Supposedly written as a reflection on the art world (Martin is known in some circles for his impressive personal collection) it has instead become a sticking point between him and his readers who expect. . . well, less. They seem to want less of Martin as an art elitist and more of his “wild and crazy” comedic persona.

Whatever cinematic images his name conjures, Martin is an author. In this novel he weaves the real with the surreal, dropping the names of well known artists and conjuring the spirits of others under fictional aliases. The book spans the career of Lacey Yeager, who enters as an inexperienced auction house intern and quickly proves herself a skilled social climber. Wildly opportunistic, self-centered, and a self-described “petty person”, Lacey is as unlikeable a protagonist as one may be able to tolerate. But there is enough wit and art world wisdom in this book to make for a satisfying read. Continue reading