Published: July 30, 2002
MFA Houston Presents Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in The Phillips Collection
HOUSTON, TEX. – An exhibition of more than 50 European masterpieces from The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., will premiere at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 22.
The exhibition includes August Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” a painting not seen outside of The Phillips Collection in nearly 15 years, as well as works by Paul Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. “Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in The Phillips Collection” will be on view through January 5 in the Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street.
“This is a stunning collection of paintings,” said Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. “Renoir’s painting alone, arguably his best work, is reason enough to see this exhibition. Seeing it in the context of other works in the show will give museum visitors a better understanding of the links between modern art and past masters. This exhibition also inaugurates a series of exhibitions scheduled through next April that will bring Impressionism to Houston from Copenhagen, Moscow and Paris.”
Duncan Phillips founded the collection that bears his name and in 1921 created the first museum in the United States to emphasize modern art and the work of living artists. “Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in the Phillips Collection” reflects Phillips’ belief in the continuum of art and artists influencing their successors. His goal was to assemble works that would resonate off one another, revealing visual harmonies that tied together the historical masterworks with the art of his own time.
This exhibition, which has been made available because of an expansion project under way at The Phillips Collection, presents modern masterworks of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries alongside works by earlier masters that Phillips felt anticipated modern movements, such as Eugéne Delacroix, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, El Greco and Jean Baptist Siméon Chardin.
Highlights of the exhibition include: “The Luncheon of the Boating Party” (1880-1881), which Phillips called “the only Renoir I need,” and now the cornerstone work in The Phillips Collection; Daumier’s “Uprising” (1848 or later), added to the collection in 1925; van Gogh’s “Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles” (1888), which Phillips purchased in 1930 to mark the occasion of his giving his entire house over to the museum.
Other highlights are: Cézanne’s “Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears” (1890-93), believed to have once been given to Claude Monet as a gift from the artist; Picasso’s “The Blue Room” (1901), which demonstrates the artist’s mannered, exaggerated way of presenting a figure and the monochromatic, blue palette characteristic of his Blue Period paintings; and Paul Klee’s “Picture Album” (1937), one of 13 Klees in The Phillips Collection, assembled by Phillips between 1938 and 1948, that have served as inspiration to artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Kenneth Noland and Marc Tobey.
Earlier works such as El Greco’s “The Repentant St Peter” (circa 1600-05, or later), Chardin’s “A Bowl of Plums” (circa 1728), Delacroix’s “Paganini” (1831) and Ingres’ “The Small Bather” (1826) will add to the comprehensive examination of the evolution of modern art.
“This exhibition is important on several levels,” said Edgar Peters Bowron, the Audrey Jones Beck Curator of European Art, who is organizing the exhibition in Houston. “These are amazing works covering a broad sweep of art history, and they were assembled by one visionary collector who believed in the continuity of art across time and nationality. It was always Phillips’s intention to bring his joy and understanding of art to greater audiences. This tour serves that mission as well, much to the benefit of art lovers in Houston.”
A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition. The book features an essay by curator Eliza E. Rathbone that focuses on Duncan Phillips’s approach to collecting and his development as a collector. The forward is by Phillips director Jay Gates. The catalog will be available in soft-cover at the MFAH shops for $20.95.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will present four exhibitions in 2002 and 2003 that will bring Impressionism to Houston from Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow and Washington, D.C. In addition to “Masterworks from El Greco to Picasso in The Phillips Collection,” the schedule includes: “French Impressionism: Masterpieces from Copenhagen’s Ordrupgaard Collection,” October 6 to January 5; “Old Masters, Impressionists and Moderns: French Masterworks from the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow,” December 15 to March 9; and “Paris in the Age of Impressionism: Masterworks from the Musée d’Orsay,” April 6 to June 29.
Advance ticket purchase for special exhibitions is recommended; call 713-639-7771 or 888-SEE MFAH (888-733-6324) to schedule a visit.
The Phillips Collection exhibition tour schedule is: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 22 to January 5; Phoenix Art Museum, January 23 to May 4; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., May 23 to September 1, 2003; Denver Art Museum, October 4, 2003 to January 4, 2004; and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, winter 2004.
For information call 713-639-7300, or visit www.mfah.org.
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