Treasure Chest of exhibits.(ARTS)(2002 FALL ARTS PREVIEW: ART)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

Treasure Chest of exhibits.(ARTS)(2002 FALL ARTS PREVIEW: ART)


Byline: Joanna Shaw-Eagle, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Steel heir Duncan Phillips (1886-1966), artist Jacob Kainen (1909-2001) and George Hewitt Myers (1875-1957), the inheritor of a pharmaceuticals fortune, were dedicated to - even obsessive about - collecting art in their lifetimes.

Their individual passions command three of the most challenging and handsome shows of the fall season's art scene: "Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late" (Phillips Collection, Sept. 22 through Jan. 19); "An Artist's Artists: Jacob Kainen's Collection From Rembrandt to David Smith" (National Gallery of Art, Sept. 22 through Jan. 5) and "The Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets" (Textile Museum, opened yesterday and runs through Feb. 16).

National Gallery President Robert H. Smith has demonstrated similar dedication to amassing art treasures as well, especially small Renaissance bronzes. Mr. Smith is loaning 50 to the National Gallery's new, specially designed sculpture space that opens Sept. 29. These works, which have never been exhibited before, are one of the highlights of the stunning display of more than 800 works from the gallery's own collection dating from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century.

Of the four collectors who are contributing so much to the fall arts season, Mr. Phillips -founder of the Phillips Collection in 1921- would probably have been the most delighted. Bonnard was one of his favorite artists and Mr. Phillips accumulated the largest and most diverse collection of his works in the United States between 1925 and 1954. He introduced Bonnard's work to U.S. audiences in 1930 when the Phillips Collection gave the French artist his first solo show in the United States. Since then, it has presented his art in 13 additional one-person exhibitions. The museum is exhibiting "Bonnard: Early and Late" in the older part of the gallery that was once the Phillips family's home.

Mr. Phillips was immediately captivated by Bonnard's sensual work. He saw "Woman with Dog" (1922) at the Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh and realized it would fit in perfectly with his other intensely colorful and emotional paintings by Matisse and Renoir. "Never before had Phillips seen such an ecstatic and ephemeral color in 20th-century art," exhibit curator Elizabeth Turner says.

Mrs. Turner approached the artist's luminous work in a new way, hence the title, "Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late." Until recently, Bonnard's work was divided into two distinct early and late creative periods that separated the early symbolist Bonnard from the later impressionist, or colorist, artist. By showing more than 60 paintings as well 70 prints and book projects, large-scale decorative screens, drawings, photographs and sculpture, she shows Bonnard's lifelong experiments with movement and light and his continuous use of daring graphic and compositional experiments. Mrs. Turner has placed some of Bonnard's most extraordinary works in the show: "The Palm," "The Red Checkered Tablecloth" (or "The Dog's Lunch"), "Nude in the Bathtub" and "Open Window."

Mr. Kainen, who died just last year, was primarily known as a master painter of color and light abstractions. He was also a beloved figure in Washington's art world, mentoring many young painters and printmakers. His pursuits as a collector of prints and drawings are less well-known but are just as admirable.

At his death, he bequeathed more than 400 prints and drawings from his collection to the gallery. The "Artist's Artists" exhibit is a special treat for visitors and shows works by master printmakers from the 16th through 20th century.

Artists have often collected other artists' work and Mr. Kainen's aesthetic tastes and political preoccupations are emphatically revealed in the art he chose. He collected the etchings of Rembrandt, van Dyck and Canaletto and the woodcuts of German expressionists Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Kathe Kollwitz. …

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