Seeing Differently

GBP £39.95



ISBN: 978-1-911282-76-1

360 Pages

280 x 240 mm, (9.5 x 11 in.)

278 colour

In association with The Phillips Collection

February 2021


An expansive collection catalogue that offers a multiplicity of fresh perspectives on recent modern and contemporary art acquisitions in The Phillips Collection.

“A sumptuous companion volume”—Eve M. Kahn, Apollo

Top Ten title, Art, Architecture, & Photography, Spring 2021 Announcement, Publishers Weekly

Phillips Collection is turning 100 and showing what future of classic museums can bePhilip Kennicott, The Washington Post

“Highly recommended for libraries supporting undergraduate or graduate programs in art, art history, or museum studies. The catalog’s focus on amplifying marginalized voices and the museum’s self-described commitment to challenging the system of white supremacy…may widen its appeal to those interested in how historic institutions are addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the twenty-first century.”—Shira Loev Eller, ARLIS/NA

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The Phillips Collection—America’s first museum of modern art—was founded in Washington, DC, in 1921 by Duncan Phillips as a memorial to his father, Duncan Clinch Phillips, and his brother, James, who died in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. Recognizing the healing power of art, Phillips sought to inspire others to “see beautifully as true artists see.” This ground-breaking volume, planned in conjunction with the museum’s centennial, offers an unprecedented breadth of insights and inclusive narratives on the Phillips’s growing art collection from a range of voices, including artists, curators, and critics, who shed light on the museum’s acquisitions since 2000.

Seeing Differently features diverse artistic expressions across wide-ranging media by renowned artists from the 19th to the 21st centuries, including John Akomfrah, Benny Andrews, Esther Bubley, Edgar Degas, Anselm Kiefer, Simone Leigh, and Aimé Mpane. This richly illustrated book includes an opening essay by Phillips director Dorothy Kosinski, artist conversations with John Edmonds, Whitfield Lovell, Alyson Shotz, and the late David C. Driskell, and 11 thematic essays by scholars and practitioners across disciplines. Its over 200 plates feature paintings, sculptures, videos, quilts, prints, and photographs, many with object responses by notable contributors, including artists Anthony Gormley, Sean Scully, Renée Stout, and Jennifer Wen Ma, among others.

Edited by Elsa Smithgall
With a foreword by Dani Levinas and preface and introductory essay by Dorothy Kosinski
Contributions by Jeffreen M. Hayes, Mary Jane Jacob, Fred L. Joiner, Lauren Kroiz, Charmaine A. Nelson, Jeremy Ney, Klaus Ottmann, Kent Mitchell Minturn, Jed Morse, Bruce Nixon, Bridget Riley, et al.

Front cover illustration: Janet Taylor Pickett, And She Was Born, 2017; Acrylic on canvas with printed paper collage, 30 x 30 in.; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC,; The Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2020.

Top slide illustration: Aimé Mpane; Mapasa, 2012; Acrylic and mixed media on two wood panels, each: 12 1/2 × 12 in.; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC,; The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Award, 2012.

Author biography

Elsa Smithgall is senior curator at The Phillips Collection.

Table of contents

  • Chairman’s Preface
  • Director’s Foreword
  • Introduction by Dorothy Kosinski
  • Prelude: Reflections on Renoir and Luncheon of the Boating Party by Bridget Riley
  • “It is the Color Of Course” by Klaus Ottmann
  • Not the Eye but the Beholder: The Shared Vision of Duncan Phillips and John Dewey by Mary Jane Jacob
  • Artist Conversation with David C. Driskell and Elsa Smithgall
  • Unraveling the Absolute: Painting Music at The Phillips Collection by Jeremy Ney
  • Learning to Look & See by Fred L. Joiner
  • Excelsior and the Contemporary by Kent Mitchell Minturn
  • In the Round: From Drawing to Sculpture by Jed Morse
  • San Francisco Modern: Manuel Neri and Frank Lobdell by Bruce Nixon
  • Physiognomy and a Fisherman: August Sander and Forrest Bess. Some Relations with Nature by Lauren Kroiz
  • Lifting into the Foreground: A Meditation on Joseph Holston’s Charity by Jeffreen M. Hayes
  • Bruce Davidson’s Black Female Sitters by Charmaine A. Nelson
  • Artist conversation with Whitfield Lovell and Elsa Smithgall
  • Rethinking Photography at The Phillips Collection: Looking Back / Looking Forward by Wendy A. Grossman
  • Artist conversation with John Edmonds and Elsa Smithgall
  • Connecting Modern with Contemporary: Intersections at the Phillips by Vesela Sretenovic
  • Artist Conversation with Alyson Shotz and Vesela Sretenovic
  • Plates with Selected Object Entries:
  1. Jennifer Wen Ma: Jennifer Wen Ma, Brain Storm
  2. Elsa Smithgall: Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, Untitled (New Orleans Series)
  3. Alexander Nemerov: William Christenberry, Church across Early Cotton, Pickinsville, AL
  4. Jacqueline E. Lawton: Jeanine Michna-Bales, Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad
  5. heather ahtone: Benny Andrews, Trail of Tears
  6. Bernardi Roig: Anselm Kiefer, Jakob’s himmlisches Blut benedeiet von Axten
  7. Franz W. Kaiser: Karel Appel, Tete comme un arbre
  8. Elsa Smithgall: Kara Walker, Crest of Pine Mountain, Where General Palk Fell
  9. Nontobeko Ntombela: O’jeikere Hairstyles
  10. Renée Maurer: Milton Avery, Self-Portrait with Red Tam and Scarf
  11. Enrique Martinez Celaya:  Forrest Bess, Untitled (Black Seascape with Moon)
  12. Kate Cowcher: Aimé Mpane, Mapasa
  13. Elsa Smithgall: David C. Driskell, Doorway
  14. Jessica Stafford Davis: Zoe Charlton, The Country A Wilderness Unsubdued
  15. Susan Behrends Frank: John Folinsbee, Grey Thaw
  16. Vesela Sretenovic: Bosco Sodi, Muro
  17. Renée Maurer: Helen Frankenthaler, Canyon
  18. Raina Lampkins-Fielder: Lucy T. Pettway, Two-Sided Quilt: Blocks and Strips and “Bricklayer
  19. Makeba Clay: Gee’s Bend Quilts and McArthur Binion, DNA: Black Painting: 1
  20. Jenna Wortham: McArthur Binion, DNA: Black Painting: I
  21. Renée Stout: Sean Scully, Day
  22. Tina Baum: Collection of Larrakitjs
  23. Susan Behrends Frank: Al Held, B/W XII and Pan North V
  24. Vesela Sretenovic: Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled (RK 927) and Blue/Black, Orange/Green, and Yellow/Orange
  25. Renée Maurer: Alex Katz, Brisk Day
  26. Elizabeth Hutton Turner: Alexander Calder, Hollow Egg
  27. Liesbeth Heenk: Howard Hodgkin, As Time Goes By
  28. Renée Maurer: Morris Louis, Seal
  29. Renée Maurer: Sam Gilliam, Purple Antelope Space Squeeze
  30. Eliza Rathbone: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, La Répétition au foyer de la danse
  31. Ellington Robinson: Whitfield Lovell Kin XXXV (Glory in the Flower)
  32. Vesela Sretenovic: Zilia Sanchez, Maquinista, Diptico
  33. Klaus Ottmann: Markus Lüpertz, Kassandra I
  34. Adrienne L. Childs, Janet Taylor Pickett, And She Was Born
  35. Antony Gormley: Walker Evans, Portrait of James Agee
  36. Elsa Smithgall: Hale Woodruff, Atlanta Portfolio
  37. Renée Maurer: Esther Bubley, A Child Whose Home Is an Alley Dwelling near the Capitol and Untitled (Two Boys on a Bench)
  38. Susan Behrends Frank: Bice Lazzari, Misure e Segni
  39. Dominique Baqué: Anselm Kiefer Dein blondes Haar, Margarethe
  40. Susan Rothenberg: Susan Rothenberg, Dominos Cold and Three Masks
  41. Wendy A. Grossman, Man Ray, Shakespearean Equation, Julius Caesar
  42. Renée Maurer: Elizabeth Murray, The Sun and the Moon
  43. Lou Stovall: Lou Stovall, Suite for Sergei
  44. Sean Scully: Renee Stout, Escape Plan A
  45. Taylor Renee Aldridge: Simone Leigh, No Face (Crown Heights)
  46. Bosco Sodi: Mark Rothko, Aubade
  47. Klaus Ottmann: Franz Erhard Walther, Roter Gesang
  48. Klaus Ottmann: Enrique Martinez Celaya, The First Kirkegaard
  49. Klaus Ottmann: Wolfgang Laib, Wohin bist du gegangen – wohin gehst Du?
  • Appendix:
  • Art Donors to The Phillips Collection Acquisitions, 2000-2020
  • Donors to The Phillips Collection Centennial Campaign
  • The Phillips Collection Exhibition History, 2000-2021
  • The Phillips Collection Publication History, 2000-2021
  • Index
  • Contributors
  • Credits