Today, I would like to tell you a bit about my father-daughter bonding adventure at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C on a crisp Sunday afternoon. You can find hours of operation and admission prices on The Phillips Collection website.
There are two great apps to help you navigate D.C. as well as the museum. First, the D.C. Metro Transit app arms the user with real time metro information. Just select from a drop down menu of the station you wish to go to and you can see the arrival times for the next few departing trains and any delays on the tracks. Trust me, the D.C. metro is always delayed. Coming from Northern Virginia, my father and I parked the car at the East Falls Church station on the Orange Line and transferred at Metro Center to the Red Line towards Shady Grove end direction. We got off two stops later at DuPont Circle and followed the signs for the 19th Street exist which is only two blocks away from the museum. We even stumbled upon a lovely farmers market! The Phillips Collection also developed a very useful app that gives audio explanations of some of the key pieces at the museum. Both of these apps of free to download for iphones and androids.
The Phillips Collection opened its doors in 1921 to commemorate the founder Duncan Phillips’ father and brother. Over the years, the collection expanded from 237 paintings to more than 3,000 works of modern and contemporary art, including pieces by Monet, Degas, Manet, Rodin, Arthur Dove, Georgio O’Keefe, Rothko, and more. The venue expanded too, from the original Georgian Revival Phillips House to the Goh Annex and the Sant Building. A giant red bear (The Bear, Xavier Veilhan, 2010) stands guard outside the entrance, making the museum easy to spot from a few blocks down, at least until the end of this exhibit.
This is the first post of my “Backyard Adventures” because I want to show you that traveling to remote places is not always feasible and not the only way to see the world (I decided to visit because of a deal on Livingsocial). In fact, there may be hidden treasures in your city and mine that can take us across space and even time. Let’s first follow Renoir s to La Maison Fournaise, a restaurant by the Seine just west of Paris. One of the most notable pieces in the collection is Renoir’s sumptuous Luncheon of the Boating Party. It’s the year 1880. The warm weather was made agreeable by the slight breeze that ruffled the striped awning. Maybe your eyes first pick up the orange flowers adorning the lady’s hat at the bottom left of the painting. The lady’s name is Aline Charigot, a hat maker and the future wife of Renoir, which explains why she is the only female in the painting not engaging with a male figure. She coos her dog ( dogs symbolize fidelity in paintings) and remains indifferent to her companions. Next, maybe your eyes drift to the orange ribbon tied on the sleeve of lady with a boating hat who seems to be gazing adoringly at the gentlemen in the brown suite. Then your eyes may trail to smaller flowers on the hat of the lady who is taking a drink while looking intently at the same gentlemen. And with good reasons too! As the former mayor of colonial Saigon, Baron Raoul Barbier is quite the catch. On the upper right corner of the painting, the actress Jeanne Samary seems to be annoyed by some unwanted attention from another artist Paul Lhote who is sporting a stripped orange shirt. Your eyes may pick up other touches of orange, maybe the shockingly bright lips of the Italian journalist Maggiolo leaning over the chair of another actress Angèle who has touches of orange at the tip of her lace collar. Or even the small stroke of orange on the elbow of one of Renoir’s patrons, Gustave Caillebotte, who Angèle seems to have taken an interest in. Impressionist paintings have the stunning ability to capture a fleeting moment with movements of color. Do you feel the wine-laced breeze in your hair? Can you hear the giggles of the flirting ladies? If so, you are already there.
Of course, there are many other places that you may want to visit and many other artists who can take you there. Go to a Spanish Ballet with Édouard Manet, Prague with Oskar Kokoschka , Lake George with Georgia O’Keeffe, or explore the migration of African Americans from the South to the North with Jacob Lawrence. The possibilities to travel are limitless. You just have to open yourself to these experiences at home and abroad.
All of the artwork today are credited to The Philips Collection and the Google Art Project.