Experiments in Installation: Part I

This is the first in a series of posts from University of Virginia graduate student Tom Winters on his class’s experience installing works from our permanent collection in the Main Gallery.

Main Gallery with European moderns and a wall of Marin watercolors, Tack, Egyptian Head, 1927. Photo: Phillips Collection Archives

For several years the University of Virginia has enjoyed a fruitful and highly beneficial relationship with The Phillips Collection, and faculty and students from UVa are excited to continue that relationship this fall semester. Under the guidance and following the inspiration of Professor Elizabeth Hutton Turner (former senior curator at the Phillips), I’m part of a team with graduate students Corey Piper and Jennifer Camp and advanced undergraduate Meryl Goldstein–all of us members of UVa’s Art History program–that has been given the opportunity to collaborate on the installation in the Main Gallery of an ensemble of works from the Phillips permanent collection. The project is a component of Professor Turner’s ‘American Modernisms’ seminar, a course focused on the emergence of modern art in America around the turn of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis given to the role of Alfred Stieglitz and his circle of artists. Professor Turner’s initial conception for the installation was provoked by a 1927 photo of the Main Gallery, a scene which prominently features Augustus Vincent Tack’s painting The Voice of Many Waters (c. 1923-4). Unable to procure that particular work at this particular time, we have installed Tack’s Night, Amargosa Desert (1935) in its place and gathered around it a selection of artworks that relate in various ways to the main topics of our seminar: Alfred Stieglitz, Duncan Phillips, and the emergence of modernist art in America. The exact nature of relationships between these artworks and themes remains to be fully determined and will hopefully grow to fruition over the next three months. So keep an eye on this blog. Or, perhaps more importantly, keep visiting the gallery.

Tom Winters, UVa graduate student, Department of Art History