The Phillips Collection is by far my favorite art museum in DC. It’s one of the few museums or galleries I’ve been to that has it’s own palpable personality, which probably comes from the fact that it’s largely just one really rich guy’s personal art collection that he turned into a museum. Plus it’s housed in his former home (and the townhomes of his former neighbors). As the collection expanded, they bought the adjacent buildings, connected them all, and turned it into one really cool art salon. The Phillips Collection pre-dates both the National Gallery of Art in DC and the MOMA in NYC and focuses on the field of Modern Art as that term has varyingly been defined since the late 1800s.
The Phillips’ most famous objet d’art is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, which now always makes me think of the movie ‘Amelie.’ My favorite works in the Phillips Collection though are Matisse’s Studio, Quai St. Michel and Marjorie Phillips’ Night Baseball. The Phillips has also hosted my favorite exhibit since I’ve been in DC, namely the Modigliani retrospective they did a few years back (although I also really like the National Gallery of Art’s Edward Hopper exhibit and the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Modernism show).
So anyway, the reason the photo above is of me in front of a sign for the Phillips Collection is that I went there today. I’m a member now so I get in for free (well, not counting the membership dues that is). I really love going to art museums. It’s always one of the factors I take into account when planning a vacation. Going to an art museum or gallery gives me a similar feeling to sitting beside the sea — both settings provide me with a sense of peace, grace, majesty, mystery, and the presence of something bigger than myself. Plus contemplating art is a bit like Pop Rocks for the soul — it wakes you up and lets you know there is more to life than just an endless string of mental factory-work.
My taste in art has certainly changed over time. Initially I didn’t have any appreciation or understanding of art that was even remotely abstract. If it didn’t look like it was supposed to look then I didn’t like it. As I’ve gotten older though I’ve begun to appreciate art that doesn’t just look like a form of photograph. I suppose it has something to do with coming to realize that few things are as they seem to be and that much of life is ambiguous and unclear. Despite that, though, I still really like ‘calendar’ artists such as Gustav Klimt and Norman Rockwell. I guess a bit of reassurance is always a welcome thing.
(December 27, 2008)
Posted by >Kevin H. on 2008-12-28 00:34:01