Director’s Desk: Today at the White House

Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

It was terrifically moving to attend today’s presentation at the White House by Michelle Obama of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. This is a photo of my colleague at the Columbus Museum of Art, Nannette Maciejunes, director, with one outstanding young constituent who has benefited enormously from the museum’s programs. It was so inspiring to hear each of the stories of the ten institutions and their real-life impact on individuals they serve. I was not the only person with tears in the eyes. I was proud to be there to represent AAMD and our own much-loved Phillips Collection.

(And did I mention how beautiful, statuesque, articulate, and natural the First Lady is?)

Dorothy Kosinski, Director


Name that Painting

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, right, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama begins her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

We posted about art in the White House last week, discussing artists from our collection that are also reflected in the works chosen for display in the Obama White House. A photo taken last night of the president and his daughters watching the First Lady give her speech to the Democratic National Convention featured a sliver, but enough for identification, of Susan Rothenberg’s Butterfly (1976) from the National Gallery of Art. Rothenberg is part of our own collection, too, with her work Three Masks (2006).

Living with Art, When your House is the White House

Alma Thomas, Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers

Not on display in the White House, but frequently on display in our galleries. Alma Thomas, Breeze Rustling Through Fall Flowers, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 57 7/8 x 50 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Gift of Franz Bader, 1976.

What kind of D.C.-based blog would we be if we didn’t write about the president now and again? Yesterday L Magazine explored the works of art selected to hang on the walls of the Obama White House and what they might say about the current residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When the list of 45 works selected from United States institutions and private collections was made public back in 2009, there was plenty of discussion about the choices. Here at the Phillips, we were pleased to see quite an affinity between the first family’s selections and our own collection:  Albers, Degas, Rothko, Diebenkorn, de Stael, and Thomas. Personally, I think I agree with the New York Times‘s Holland Cotter’s assessment that the painting by Alma Thomas might be one of my top picks for my own home. Though honestly, I wouldn’t turn any of them down.

If you had the power of the president to select works of art with which to live, what would you chose?