This post isn’t about food. It’s about art. I suppose it’s relevant enough – food can be art, and art can be food. With that said, let me write about something different for a change.
I was an art history major at Hopkins, and loved nearly every class I took in the program. While it’s probably not a career I will end up pursuing, I still love studying and analyzing various works of art.
There is a small museum near my apartment called The Phillips Collection. After reading about the museum’s impressionist collection, I decided to visit last Saturday morning. Instantly, I was very impressed by the array of works the museum had – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, and one of my favorite artists, Matisse. One painting in particular by Matisse, “Egyptian Curtain” (on right), stuck out to me.
While this is a later work by Matisse (1948), it still exemplifies the flat, bold strokes of color seen in his earlier, fauvist works. The work is at first visually frustrating, as it is difficult to tell what objects are in the forefront and which ones are in the background. There is no clear focal point of the painting, as Matisse treats all objects in the work with equal emphasis.
Matisse also uses bright splashes of color to flatten the objects and skew the sense of depth in the scene. The location of the curtain in the scene is visually confusing – where is it in relation to the table? The treatment of brushwork with the palm tree outside of the window is just as complex as it is with the curtain on the right of the picture. On the other hand, the fruit on the table is painted in a simple way that does not match the complex patterns in he scene.
To me, this work evokes the open window motif that Matisse often displays in many of his works. For example, Open Window (1905, on left), The Blue Window (1913) and The Piano Lesson (1916) all show the open window motif, but in very different ways.
Because The Phillips is a small museum, I had plenty of time to mull over works such as Matisse’s. I was able to see nearly everything in the museum in an hour and a half (this would NEVER happen at the National Gallery!). For its size, The Phillips houses some very impressive works.
Duncan Phillips, who helped introduce modern art to Americans, founded the museum in its current house in 1921. He intended the museum to be a place where visitors could enjoy art in a warm and inviting setting. Today, The Phillips is still committed to Duncan’s values.
It’s a great little museum that’s definitely worth a visit.
The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st St NW, Washington, DC 20009.