Thursday, April 26, 2007

Great Cities

So, right now I am in Washington DC visiting with my sister. It was a sudden decision, but it is working out beautifully. Sadly, the Fabulous Babe is working most of the week, so I'm here sharing a hotel room and doing my own thing.

Today I went to the Phillips Collection, and lovely little museum of modern art, "modern" meaning about 1870-1940. Duncan and Marjorie Phillips collected art together, and in about 1930 turned their lovely Dupont Circle mansion in to a museum. Today the house, along with a more recently added annex, house the collection, which is amazing. It has a little bit of everybody you've ever heard of: Ingres, Delacroix, Degas, Manet, Daumier, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Calder, Cassatt, Bonnard, O'Keefe, Steiglitz Rothko--seriously, just about everybody.

The most famous work in the collection is Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, which is still charming and delightful. It is currently in a gallery with two Van Goghs and two Bonnards, which is more riches than you can imagine. Although the Renoir is the largest and most famous, today I was hungry for color, so I found the Van Gogh more compelling. (Entrance to the Public Park at Arles, for those of you interested.)

So today, my favorite picture was one that I didn't even know was there: The Artist's Studio by Raoul Dufy. It is just about as huge as the Boating Party, and is hanging in a stairway between the two floors of the original Phillips mansion. So I came upon it bit by bit as I was walking up the stairs. Really, it is ridiculous that it is there--a tall person would probably hit it with a shoulder or something. Best of all, though, is that there is a balcony at the top of the stairs, so you can step back a bit to see the whole thing at eye height.

What a delightful picture! I only discovered Dufy a few years ago when I ran across a calendar of his art. There is such lovely and bright color, and whimsical lines to convey a loose and light approach to the subject matter. No wind toss'd seas, no sinking ships, no violent allegory or political protest. Just the studio where he worked for 42 years, with some of his recognizable painting, a peek at a Paris street, and a sense of airy and spacious light.

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be rich. I think I wouldn't be an inspiration to anybody--but maybe I could do this. I could collect art and turn my house into a museum. Cool, right?

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