The Phillips Collection
Our hotel in Washington was just blocks away from The Phillips Collection, a small museum (made up of an old house and a modern extension). I paid $12.00 to see the Klee exhibit (although the permanent collection is free). I don’t remember the last time I went to museum alone; lacking much of a grounding in art and artists it’s that much more of a challenge without someone to talk it over with — even the basics of who these artists were and what they were known for is helpful in order to build up a bit of a vocabulary. Given that, the Klee exhibit was worthwhile since I learned a fair amount about the artist and saw a lot of his work (I remember that he was actively championed in the US but never came here, was insanely prolific, had enormous variety in visual styles).
My favorite pieces were from the permanent collection, although much of it seemed browned and faded and cracked (more than I’ve never noticed in other galleries). Too much of the commentary had to do with the Collection itself (I learned a new word: deaccession, the removing of a work from a collection).
The Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir) is very cool. It was given a prominent place at the end of a small room. It’s one of those paintings where you think a light is being shone upon it, but it’s all in how it was painted. It just glowed with light, and with the complex energy and stories of these characters all in place.
Philip Guston, Untitled – 1980. I don’t know why I liked this, I just did. The cartoon-y look certainly appealed.
Approaching a City by Edward Hopper was a familiar and surprising subject for a painting. This would be a great photograph, but who would think to paint it?
Nicolas de Sta?´l (I’m not sure this was the piece I saw; they had a few de Sta?´l and all were amazingly thick-thick-thick with layers of paint, very cool in person but useless to see here).
Obviously these compressed on-screen images aren’t meant to evoke anything except recognition.