"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul." Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Phillips Collection and a New Steeplechase

18 x 24 / Untitled / oil on linen panel
After a harrowing Sunday at Art Mash - trying to paint a Viking - I gave up and wiped off my attempt. I don't know why I had such a hard time painting him but after returning home it struck me that I was not in love with this Viking. He was dressed all in brown and raw siena against a dark background, sitting on a dark brown furry throw and holding a black sword. He just did not excite my senses and, try as I might, I could not paint him.  And so I show you my slightly unfinished current steeplechase painting instead.

And now for The Phillips Collection!


 Located near Dupont Circle in Washington DC, the Phillips family collected over 600 paintings in their private residence before turning it into an art gallery open to the public in 1921. Today The Phillips Collection is home to an extraordinary collection of more than 3,000 works ranging from masterpieces of French impressionism and American modernism to contemporary art. By displaying superb works in an intimate setting, founder Duncan Phillips hoped to encourage visitors to appreciate new, challenging forms of artistic expression. Art from different eras and places is often juxtaposed to suggest visual "conversations." And the art itself nothing less than extraordinary!


Pierrre Bonnard / The Circus Rider / 1894
 Such a powerful small painting! I could have spent an hour musing over this small piece. The horse and rider are one in intent and emotion -  and the joy and tension evident in their union is masterful to behold. I felt like the magic of this moment eluded the somber faced participants watching from the stands and is truly an intimate dialogue between the painter and the viewer. If only I had gotten a better photo.

And then I turned a corner and entered a small dining room and surprisingly, above the fireplace, most likely where it has hung for over 100 years, was this intense and familiar self portrait that I have seen time and again in books on Cezanne. Looking closely at the brushwork was like having a lesson from the painter himself!

Paul Cezanne / Self Portrait / 1878-1880
 And a lovely, serene Cezanne landscape...

Cezanne / Mont Sainte Victoire / 1886-1887

I was completely captivated by this stunning portrait - and  look at that fantastic frame! I don't know much about Chaim Soutine, but after seeing this work, I am motivated to research him and his work.

Chaim Soutine / Woman in Profile / 1937

Gustave Courbet / The Mediterranean / 1857
 A magnificent seascape by Courbet - the color is unlike any sea or landscape that I have seen. It is a complete wonder.

And upon turning another corner, I had my breath taken away by this incredible Degas masterpiece! It is very large - 51 x 38 inches and vibrates with color and brushwork that delights the eye from corner to corner. The ballerinas skirts, skin, bodices are all fused together with color and brushwork while the languid tension of the ballerinas as they stretch and turn at the barre is overpowering.

Edgar Degas / Dancers at the Barre / 1900
 And in this close up shot below, you can notice the strong sketchy dark blue lines curving around the limbs and here and there on the bodices. And just look at her face! There is a lesson here for me as a painter in boldness and freedom from fear. I wanted to take this painting home with me!
Close up - Dancers at the Barre
 And an earlier Degas - so different from the dancers - it is small and very somber with sorrow etched in her face and throughout the composition.

Edgar Degas / Melancholy / 1860
 A graphite sketch by Renoir of Rodin!

Pierre August Renoir / Portrait of Rodin / undated
 And lastly, this very beautiful, very decorative interior scene of a woman reading by Vuillard. There is so much to see in this painting - each stroke of paint is like a little surprising gift!
Edouard Vuillard / The Newspaper / 1896
There is so much more to see and marvel at in this gem of a museum - including a Van Gogh, works by Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins,  Chardin, Goya and El Greco! I could go on and on..... However, I will end with the work that this museum is most well known for  and one I would suppose every art loving person on earth is familiar with. This work by Renoir -

Pierre Auguste Renoir / Luncheon of the Boating Party / 1880
It is so large ( 51 x 69 inches) that it takes up an entire wall and is so much more fascinating in real life than can be captured in any photo. It gave me a new found appreciation of Renoir! I hope that all who read about this wonderful collection of art will have a chance some day to visit the Phillips Collection. It is well worth the trip and the wonder of it all lingers in my mind.


23 comments:

  1. Phenomenal art! It must have been heaven seeing these great paintings up close and personal. Very stimulating--a humbling too. But there is nothing humble about your leaping horse with rider. It is charged with energy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great thrill to stand only a nose length away from these magnificent works. And extremely humbling. They made my desire to be a good painter all the greater while at the same time showing me how much more I must do to even come close.

      Delete
  2. Bonjour ma chère Susan,

    Aujourd'hui tu m'as fait rêver...
    Déjà, je comprends qu'on ne puisse pas réussir et être satisfaite d'une peinture lorsque le sujet ne plaît pas. Un sentiment qu'on ne peut pas forcé !

    En revanche je sens que sur cette dernière peinture tu te lâches complètement. Tu es sur le cheval, tu es le cheval lui-même et son cavalier !
    J'adore ce beau mouvement de liberté, de fougue incroyable ! Lorsque Icarus mon chien court et saute dans la forêt il m'étonne tant j'ai parfois l'impression qu'il prend un envol qui risque de mal se terminer !... Je ressens cette même émotion en admirant ta peinture. Une belle excitation.

    Et puis que dire de toutes ces magnifiques peintures que je connais... De grands maîtres...
    J'aime particulièrement les peintures de Césanne. Elles me parlent... et je les respire souvent puisque je me trouve très souvent au pied de la montagne Sainte Victoire. C'est une région que j'affectionne.
    J'aime aussi Vuillard qui était l'élève de Bonnard. Je trouve ses peintures encore plus subtiles et abouties. Enfin cela est une pensée purement personnelle ! A Lyon nous avons un musée où les oeuvres de Vuillard sont nombreuses. Un jour peut-être y viendras-tu et je t'y accompagnerai...

    Merci pour ces instants bonheur...
    Gros bisous ❀ ❁ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❁ ❀

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear MartineAlison, your words stir a deep appreciation in me. I know that you understand. And it would be a dream come true to visit a Vuillard museum with you. Imagine what we would notice together in those wonderful woven paintings that he created! I shall look forward to it one day!

      Delete
  3. What a fabulous post! I'm going to say something I probably shouldn't... but oh well! I'll say it anyway! I MUCH prefer your horse and rider than Pierre's! Your one is SO full of power, movement and energy, it's incredible! I love Edouards work... wow, what a wonderful selection! :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my gosh - I am ni shock but I do thank you, Sandra! Perhaps the Bonnard must be seen in real life in order to uncover its unique allure. I do love it so! I will soon be putting together a post on my National Art Gallery experiences as well!

      Delete
  4. FABULOUS!!! I love reading your description of the paintings. Your love for the Impressionists comes through so strongly, you are teaching me to love them, too.
    Your latest steeplechase painting compares much more than favorably to the paintings of the Phillips collection. [Did that sound right??] The horse and rider are so full of power, energy and focussed determination - LOVE it!!!
    Kathryn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists. They have spoken directly to me since I can remember. And I am shocked and astonished by the comparison! (but do admit to enjoying your words immensely) Thank you Kathryn - I am determined in my quest to become a fine painter.

      Delete
  5. Another gorgeous piece from you Susan, you can feel ( and see ) the tension in the reins and the power of both the rider and the horse ! And what a wonderful show of paintings, you never tire of seeing them , it is always a marvel !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jane - I am so glad you like this steeplechase piece. And my trip to the Phillips Collection is one I will never forget!

      Delete
  6. what an INCREDIBLY wonderful post!!! first, i am blown away by the steeplechase..the excitement, the movement, the colors, everything!!! this painting belongs among the masterworks you've included here!!! your work never ever disappoints!

    and secondly thank you so much for taking us with you as you viewed these works and shared your thoughts, i felt like i was there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so kind, Suzanne - thank you. I thought I would be able to attack my canvases upon my return from Washington but as it has turned out, I have not had much time to paint. I would also like to share some of my thoughts about my experiences at the National Gallery. I will find the time!

      Delete
  7. Susan, a brilliant painting. Your Horses are so alive. thanks for the show of paintings. all the best.
    ic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Vic - the Phillips Collection is truly like a small hidden gem. Glad you enjoyed the virtual visit!

      Delete
  8. Hallo Susan, je paarden zijn steeds opwindend voorgesteld, deze weer in volle aktie, ik vind het mooi !
    Je foto's tonen geweldige werken in perfecte kaders .
    groetjes,
    Simonne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Capturing the essence of these magnificent beats in times of tense motin is what I am compelled to attempt - thankyou, Simonne.

      Delete
  9. A beautiful horse, and I saw some great portraits too! Lovely to visit your blog again! Thanks for the tour, such great paintings. And I love the frames as well. :) It must be so inspiring to see them in real life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The experience was so inspiring - and very, very humbling!

      Delete
  10. What a pleasure to see all these paintings with your eyes, eyes of the painter. Thank you so much for this post.
    The horse and rider are one in intent and emotion? Sure they do. Steeplechase is so full with life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was my pleasure to share my excitement in these wonderful works - I will try to do the same very soon for the paintings that I saw at the National Gallery. Thanks for your comment about the steeplechase - uniting horse and rider is one of my goals.

      Delete
  11. Great post buddy! How I miss commenting on your fine blog! Must learn to budget my time better! I so love your love of art! Especially Impressionism! Isn't it marvelous to be surrounded by such great art! When I am so close to such masterful work I love to imagine the artists being right next to me! Ahhh! Of course I love your most recent horse and rider flying. It looks like the rider is holding back a bit! I am glad you wiped out the Viking! Good for you Susan! Paint on and Wipe out!
    Your Also Impressionists Loving Art Buddy!
    Michael

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are welcome and brighten my day!