Published: February 26, 2008
Featuring more than 115 works of art, including paintings, photographs, sculpture and works on paper, and introducing 28 artists new to the museum, The Phillips Collection has unveiled the newest additions to its collection of modern art in the exhibition “Degas to Diebenkorn: The Phillips Collects,” on view through May 25.
Spanning the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries, the exhibition showcases works by American and European masters, including Edgar Degas, Edouard Vuillard, Hans Hofmann, Paul Klee, Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Alexander Calder, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell and David Smith, as well as living artists Howard Hodgkin, William Christenberry, Ellsworth Kelly, Sean Scully and many others.
This is the first exhibition in the museum’s 86-year history to profile its collecting practices, revealing how the vitality and range of these works have both strengthened the collection’s foundation and allowed it to venture in new directions.
“Degas to Diebenkorn: The Phillips Collects” features masterpieces focusing on both gifts and acquisitions that encompass significant developments in modern art and illustrate the aesthetic principles at the museum’s core. It also highlights the museum’s recent emphasis on collecting photography with a selection of works by Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, August Sander, Minor White and both Edward and Brett Weston.
This exhibition is the first to feature exceptional works, in a wide range of media, by artists that have never before been represented in the collection. Among the 28 artists new to the collection are Ansel Adams, Elizabeth Murray, William Eggleston, Barbara Hepworth, Harry Callahan and Ellsworth Kelly. Their distinct aesthetic sensibilities resonate with other works in the collection through their compositional structure and use of color.
“Degas to Diebenkorn” marks the debut of the museum’s most recent acquisition †”Three Masks,” 2006, a major painting by the distinguished American artist Susan Rothenberg. Widely celebrated as one of the most gifted artists of her generation, Rothenberg has received international acclaim for her rich and edgy paintings. From her iconic horse paintings through her fragmented forms that float in strange and mysterious settings, Rothenberg has continually incorporated imagery culled from her past as well as her current environment.
Purchased by the Phillips in fall 2007, “Three Masks” is a dynamic painting that combines a bold palette and a richly textured surface. Rothenberg has cited artists such as Elizabeth Murray, Alberto Giacometti, Claude Monet and Piet Mondrian †all of whom are represented in The Phillips Collection †as sources of inspiration. The energy, color, texture and gestural brushwork of “Three Masks” recalls these aesthetic influences and places the painting firmly within the museum’s tradition of painting.
The exhibition also showcases works of art that add to existing strengths in the collection, including the promised gift of Edouard Vuillard’s “Interior with a Red Bed,” 1893, which will enhance the museum’s holdings of this celebrated artist.
The Phillips Collection is in the heart of Washington’s historic Dupont Circle neighborhood at 1600 21st Street, NW. For information, 202-387-2151 or www.phillipscollection.org .
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