Sunday, January 15, 2017

DC tourism, part 2

I went quite quickly through the National Gallery, Main Building.  I felt kind of bad about it, though I had done a fairly thorough tour on my last visit.  I basically stopped to look at the Rembrandt's and a few Italian paintings.  I slowed down to take in the Impressionists (though several galleries were closed for reinstallation) and the American painters Whistler and Sargent (though I believe all of the Ashcan School paintings have been relocated to the East Building).

John Singer Sargent, Street in Venice, 1882

I was quite surprised that the Stuart Davis exhibit was in the Main Building, since thematically it belongs in the East Building.  However, after the reinstallation of paintings in the East Building, it might just be too difficult to put on large exhibits, and they may all go in the Main Building from here on out.

While I was actually fairly hungry by this point, I decided I would push on and see the Davis exhibit, and then eat in the underground cafeteria that connects the two buildings.  (While this isn't a great deal, it is probably the most reasonable cafeteria on the mall itself.)  The Stuart Davis exhibit is very well done, though it is a bit smaller than the version at the Whitney.  I will refer interested parties to the second half of this post where I talk about the show.  In particular, a number of the Paris-inspired scenes were missing.  Nonetheless, it is a very enjoyable and lively show.  It runs until early March.

I went reasonably quickly through the East Building.  It is generally interesting to find there seems to be some new critical attention given to the Chicago artist Roger Brown, and they had some newly acquired works by him, including this painting.

Roger Brown, Waterfall, 1974

While there were many familiar paintings, particularly the Picasso's and the Matisse's and Cezanne's, there were some with which I wasn't as familiar.
Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, 1903

I'm fairly sure I hadn't see this Klee painting before, though I probably had seen the Max Weber.

Paul Klee, New House in the Suburbs, 1924

Max Weber, Rush Hour, New York, 1915

I'm reasonably sure that I had not seen this Beckmann painting before, though I wasn't enthralled by it.

Max Beckmann, Bathing Scene (The Green Cloak), 1934

I was actually fairly bummed out that The Argonauts was not on view (or at least not in the proper room with the other Expressionists) when I turned the corner and saw it in a prominent location.  So that was great.

Max Beckmann, The Argonauts, 1949-50

Yet again, Falling Man was not on view.*

While it was a good visit to the National Gallery, I was starting to stress about the time.  Given that the Metro was kind of unreliable, I just walked over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, despite the cold.  My timing was quite good, as it was free to visit the museum on Sunday, and one exhibit (No Man's Land) was closing that afternoon and the highlights of collection had just reopened.

My favorite piece from No Man's Land was this neon sculpture called Street Ophelia.

Mira Dancy, Street Ophelia (neon blue), 2014

I have to admit, I don't go to this museum often (partly because you usually have to pay to visit...), and I believe I haven't visited in at least 20 years (and it was probably in a completely different location).  I remember buying some coasters based on this painting for my mother, and I reclaimed a couple after she passed away.  (I didn't see anything like that for sale in the gift shop on this visit.)

Alma Woodsey Thomas, Iris, Tulips, Jonquils and Crocuses, 1969

Other highlights from the permanent collection were this self-portrait by Frida Kahlo and an urban streetscape.

Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky, 1937

Georgia Mills Jessup, Rainy Night, Downtown, 1967

I was finally feeling back on track after this visit wrapped up.  I walked over to the Convention Center and got my badge and all my materials for the conference.  I swung by the Smithsonian American Art Museum (since it is reasonably close by) for another hour or so, then went back to the hotel.

Most of the rest of the trip was taken up with the conference, though I did sneak out Tuesday evening to visit the Phillips Collection.

There were several old favorites and a few paintings that I didn't recall seeing.  By far the oddest display was this room they had completely covered in beeswax, which gave off a pleasant smell.

Vincent Van Gogh, Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles, 1888

Juan Gris, Abstraction, 1915

Judith Rothschild, Interior, 1970

So that wraps up my highlights of the trip.  I think I managed to squeeze in quite a bit of art, on top of several days' worth of conference-going.  I'll decide closer to the summer whether I think I want to make the trip again in 2018 (and thus have to get a paper ready) or just focus on travel closer to home.

* I learned later that it is on view in the Beckmann in New York exhibit at the Met, along with Hotel Lobby from the Albright-Knox -- both paintings that I have been disappointed in not seeing in their home museums in a long time (or, in the case of Hotel Lobby, never).  I have agreed to be reasonable and not try to fly or bus it to New York just to catch this show -- aside from these two paintings and two major triptychs, there are really only 4 additional paintings that I really would like to see, and two of those I saw back in the 2003 Queens MoMA show.  I just can't justify the time and expense for that.  I may not even pick up the catalog unless it turns up at BMV on some extreme deal later in the year.

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