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Series: Vernon Series on the History of Art

Duncan and Marjorie Phillips and America’s First Museum of Modern Art

Pamela Carter-Birken

March 2021 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-107-6
Availability: In stock
176pp. ¦ $43 £32 €36

He was born to privilege and sought the world of art. She lived at the center of that world—a working artist encouraged by the famous artists in her extended family. Together, Duncan Phillips and Marjorie Acker Phillips founded The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the first museum of modern art in America. It opened in the grand Phillips family home in 1921, eight years before New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and only a few weeks after they wed. Duncan took the lead in developing the collection and showcasing it. Marjorie kept space and time to paint. Duncan considered Marjorie a partner in the museum even though she was not directly involved in all purchasing and presentation decisions. To him, her influence was omnipresent. Although Duncan’s writings on artists and art history were widely published, he chose not to provide much instruction for visitors to the museum. Instead, he combined signature methods of displaying art which live on at The Phillips Collection. Phillips had viewers in mind when he hung American art with European art—or art of the past with modern art, and he frequently rearranged works to stimulate fresh encounters. With unfettered access to archival material, author Pamela Carter-Birken argues that The Phillips Collection’s relevancy comes from Duncan Phillips’s commitment to providing optimal conditions for personal exploration of art. In-depth collecting of certain artists was one of Phillips’s methods of encouraging independent thinking in viewers. Paintings by Pierre Bonnard, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Jacob Lawrence, and Mark Rothko provide testament to the power of America’s first museum of modern art.

Duncan and Marjorie Phillips and America’s First Museum of Modern Art

Pamela Carter-Birken

March 2021 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-212-7
Availability: In stock
176pp. [Color] ¦ $75 £55 €62

He was born to privilege and sought the world of art. She lived at the center of that world—a working artist encouraged by the famous artists in her extended family. Together, Duncan Phillips and Marjorie Acker Phillips founded The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the first museum of modern art in America. It opened in the grand Phillips family home in 1921, eight years before New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and only a few weeks after they wed. Duncan took the lead in developing the collection and showcasing it. Marjorie kept space and time to paint. Duncan considered Marjorie a partner in the museum even though she was not directly involved in all purchasing and presentation decisions. To him, her influence was omnipresent. Although Duncan’s writings on artists and art history were widely published, he chose not to provide much instruction for visitors to the museum. Instead, he combined signature methods of displaying art which live on at The Phillips Collection. Phillips had viewers in mind when he hung American art with European art—or art of the past with modern art, and he frequently rearranged works to stimulate fresh encounters. With unfettered access to archival material, author Pamela Carter-Birken argues that The Phillips Collection’s relevancy comes from Duncan Phillips’s commitment to providing optimal conditions for personal exploration of art. In-depth collecting of certain artists was one of Phillips’s methods of encouraging independent thinking in viewers. Paintings by Pierre Bonnard, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Jacob Lawrence, and Mark Rothko provide testament to the power of America’s first museum of modern art.

The Centre as Margin: Eccentric Perspectives on Art

Edited by Joana Antunes, Group of Multidisciplinary Studies in Art, CEAACP/Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, Portugal et al.

September 2018 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-447-4
Availability: In stock
362pp. ¦ $66 £49 €56

The Centre as Margin. Eccentric Perspectives on Art is a multi-authored volume of collected essays that answer the challenge of thinking Art History, and the Arts in a broader sense, from a liminal point of view. Its main goal is thus to discuss the margin from the centre - drawing on its concomitance within study themes and subjects, ontological and epistemological positions, or research methodologies themselves. Marginality, eccentricity, liminality, and superfluity are all part of a dynamic relationship between centre and margin(s) that will be approached and discussed, from the point of view of disciplines as different and as close as art history, philosophy, literature and design, from medieval to contemporary art. Resulting from recent research developed from the privileged viewpoint offered by the margin, this volume brings together the contributions of young researchers along with the work of career scholars. Likewise, it does not obey a traditional or a rigid diachronic structure, being rather organized in three major parts that organically articulate the different essays. Within each of these parts in which the book is divided, papers are sometimes organized according to their timeframes, providing the reader with an encompassing (though not encyclopedic) overview of the common ground over which the various artistic disciplines build their methodological, theoretical, and thematic centers and margins. The intended eccentricity of this volume – and the original essays herein presented – should provide researchers, scholars, students, artists, curators, and the general reader interested in art with a refreshing approach to its various scientific strands.

Elizabeth Craven: Writer, Feminist and European

Julia Gasper

July 2017 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-275-3
Availability: In stock
334pp. ¦ $65 £55 €62

Elizabeth Craven’s fascinating life was full of travel, love-affairs and scandals but this biography, the first to appear for a century, is the only one to focus on her as a writer and draw attention to the full range of her output, which raises her stature as an author considerably. Born into the upper class of Georgian England, she was pushed into marriage at sixteen to Lord Craven and became a celebrated society hostess and beauty, as well as mother to seven children. Though acutely conscious of her relative lack of education, as a woman, she ventured into writing poetry, stories and plays. Incompatibility and infidelities on both sides ended her marriage and she had to move to France where, living in seclusion, she wrote the little-known feminist work Letters to Her Son. In the years that followed, she travelled extensively all over Europe and turned her letters into a travelogue which is one of her best-known works. On her return she went to live in Germany as the companion and eventually second wife of the Margrave of Ansbach. At his court she organised and appeared in theatricals, and wrote several more plays of great interest, including The Modern Philosopher. In 1792 she and the Margrave settled in England, where they were never fully accepted by the more strait-laced pillars of society but mixed with all the musicians and actors and the more rakish of the Regency set. Craven continued to put on her own theatricals and write for the theatre. In her old age, she moved to Naples where she passed her time sailing, gardening and writing her Memoirs. Even in her final years, scandal dogged her, and Craven made her feminist principles and criticisms of the laws of marriage apparent through her involvement in the notorious divorce case of Queen Caroline.

Portrait of Young Genius – The Mind and Art of Marie Bashkirtseff

Joel L. Schiff

December 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-171-8
Availability: In stock
304pp. [Color] ¦ $85 £68 €80

Marie Bashkirtseff was of one of the most extraordinary women of the 19th century. Her Journal (originally comprising some 20,000 hand-written pages but pared down to a few hundred for publication) was a cause célèbre after her death and continues to be an inspiration to the Women’s Movement to this day. It also inspired such great writers as Anaïs Nin and Katherine Mansfield among many others. Born into an aristocratic family in a village in Ukraine the family soon settled in France, first in Nice and later in Paris. Taught entirely by tutors Marie spoke multiple languages, played numerous musical instruments and longed for a singing career on the stage. An illness that affected her throat made her change course and she took up painting for which she had a latent talent. As a student at the Académie Julian in Paris she was soon exhibiting at the annual Paris Salon, the premier venue for artists. But it was her personality that makes Marie Bashkirtseff such an exceptional individual. At a very young age she was already exhibiting in her Journal the thoughts of a learned philosopher, wrestling with the nature of God, the position of women in society, the politics of men. Having contracted tuberculosis in early childhood she ceaselessly strove to shrug it off in her quest to achieve greatness. In the end, a great tragedy unfolds. The book is somewhat unique in format. The first part is a biographical section that describes Marie’s unusual and fascinating life. Then a second section, consists of a single Journal excerpt (in English translation from the original French) on each left-hand page, juxtaposed with one of her outstanding works of art on the facing page. In this manner, we learn about her remarkable life and tribulations, enter her restive and brilliant mind via her Journal, as well as appreciate her exceptionally fine works as an artist.

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