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The Phillips Collection Opens Philip Guston and David Smith Exhibitions

The Phillips Collection showcases the work of modern masters Philip Guston (1913–1980) and David Smith (1906–1965). Both exhibitions shine a spotlight on a pivotal moment in each artist’s illustrious career, revealing the evolution of his personal aesthetic. The exhibitions open on Feb. 12, 2011, and remain on view through May 15.

“From acquiring Guston’s powerfully abstract Native’s Return in 1958 to exhibiting his most recent works on paper in 1981, the Phillips has a long history of supporting this complex artist’s periods of exploration and breakthrough,” said Dorothy Kosinski, director of The Phillips Collection. “This exhibition focuses on an important moment of transition in Guston’s career. At the same time we’ll feature an exhibition of works by his contemporary, David Smith, that reveals an equally important moment of artistic evolution.”


Philip Guston. Roma (Fountain), 1971. Oil on paper mounted on canvas. Collection of Barbara and Sorrell Mathes, New York. © Estate of Philip Guston; image courtesy McKee Gallery, New York, NY.

PHILIP GUSTON, ROMA
From the films of Federico Fellini to the vestiges of ancient Rome and the works of Italian masters, Philip Guston drew inspiration throughout his career from Italian art and culture. This exhibition features 39 paintings from the early 1970s that Guston created during his tenure as artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. It marks the first time that the work has been gathered together and displayed, and The Phillips Collection is the only U.S. venue.

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE
A 221-page hardcover catalogue accompanies the exhibition. It includes essays by exhibition curator Peter Benson Miller and modern art scholar Dore Ashton. Guston’s own diary entries, printed alongside a selection of color reproductions of paintings from the Roma series, recount exchanges at the American Academy; pilgrimages to Venice, Arezzo, Sicily, and Orvieto; and observations of the international cultural community in Rome. The book is available in the Museum Shop for $60.00.

EXHIBITION ORGANIZATION AND SPONSOR
Organized by the City of Rome and the Museo Carlo Bilotti – Aranciera di Villa Borghese, in partnership with the American Academy in Rome, Philip Guston, Roma is made possible by a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

MEDIA PARTNER
Capitol File magazine chronicles and celebrates the most influential players, cultural connoisseurs, fashion sophisticates, and philanthropic leaders in Washington. As the ultimate source for substantive features and captivating photography, Capitol File delivers the latest news in art, fashion, politics, local dining, and design.

MEDIA PARTNER
Capitol File magazine chronicles and celebrates the most influential players, cultural connoisseurs, fashion sophisticates, and philanthropic leaders in Washington. As the ultimate source for substantive features and captivating photography, Capitol File delivers the latest news in art, fashion, politics, local dining, and design.

LA DOLCE DC CITYWIDE FESTIVAL
Philip Guston, Roma is part of La Dolce DC, a citywide festival in partnership with the Embassy of Italy. It showcases the international aspect of Washington, D.C., celebrating all things Italian, from classic art to contemporary culture.

DAVID SMITH INVENTS
David Smith is widely considered one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century. He was the first American to make welded steel sculpture, infusing this industrial material with a fluidity and imaginative creativity that is at once beautiful and muscular. In doing so he transformed the nature of sculpture in America and won for sculpture the respect in American art previously reserved for painting.

David Smith Invents, the first exhibition in Washington of the artist’s work in more than 25 years, explores Smith’s creative process from the early 1950s into the early 1960s through 39 works. Featuring six sculptures, the exhibition takes its inspiration from Smith’s welded steel Bouquet of Concaves (1959), a recent gift to the Phillips. This work is shown for the first time with Smith’s Bouquet of Concaves II (1960) and Black Concaves (1960), a group which Smith saw as seminal experiments with, in his words, the mystery of concave and convex. These sculptures are displayed with works on paper and paintings from the same period. In addition, the exhibition showcases the artist’s own photographs of these sculptures on his property in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake George, N.Y., revealing how Smith invested them with new meaning by placing them in the natural landscape. The exhibition highlights how Smith, working in a variety of media, explored ideas over time in both two and three dimensions.

Smith grew up in Indiana, the son of an engineer, and from an early age was enthralled by trains and railroads. By age 19, he worked as a welder and riveter in a car factory, an experience that would later influence his work as he tried to capture the spirit of America’s transition from a rural society to an industrial one. He ran his studio like a factory, stocked with large amounts of raw material. On steel as a medium, he said: “What it can do in arriving at form economically, no other material can do. The metal itself possesses little art history. What associations it possesses are those of this century: power, structure, movement, progress, suspension, destruction and brutality.”

The 1950s marked an extraordinarily fertile period for Smith. After working on an assembly line welding locomotives and tanks during World War II, Smith received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1950 that enabled him to devote himself to his sculpture full time. His engagement with steel, bronze, oil paint, commercial aerosol spray enamel, ink, and tempera allowed ideas and images to follow from one medium to another. He once said, “In my own case, I don’t know whether I make some pieces as painted sculpture or paintings in form.”

EXHIBITION CATALOGUE
A 112-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Curator Susan Behrends Frank opens a window onto Smith’s unusual working process. Featured throughout the book are extraordinary photographs taken by Smith of his sculptures. Published by Yale University Press in association with The Phillips Collection, it also includes essays by Sarah Hamill, assistant professor of modern and contemporary art at Oberlin College, and Peter Stevens, executive director of the estate of David Smith. The book is available in the Museum Shop for $29.95.

EXHIBITION ORGANIZATION
The exhibition is organized by The Phillips Collection.

Lower Image: David Smith. Black Concaves, 1960. Steel, painted. The Honorable Ann W. Brown and Donald A. Brown
www.phillipscollection.org

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