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The Phillips Collection
museum in Washington, D.C.
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The Phillips Collection
museum in Washington, D.C.
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1600 21st Street NW
Washington, District Of Columbia
United States

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

Some call the Phillips Collection the American Prado.

And by some we mean the founder, Duncan Phillips. He was an art lover for life who turned his family's house into a forever home for some of the best modern and impressionist artworks he could muster. The collection has its roots in an obsession with art that started early for Duncan and his older brother James. The brothers Phillips took many opportunities to immerse themselves in the art scene before taking a united jump into the wild world of collecting. James secured a stipend from Papa Phillips and the brothers bought with abandon.

World War I could have put everything on hold or quashed the brothers' art ambitions outright. Duncan tried to join the military for overseas action and was denied for health reasons. The younger Phillips put his art collecting zeal to work for the war effort by joining the government's division of Pictorial Publicity. Specifically, he goaded some artists to produce works inspired by America's war effort and displayed the result in the American War Salon, held patriotically at the American Art Galleries in New York. Whatever grand plan he was working with fell apart, however, when the government balked at the idea of purchasing all the art.

Shortly after the war, James succumbed to the Spanish flu in the pandemic of 1918. The tragedy broke James' heart. But his spirit remained transfixed, emboldened even, on the idea of collecting art to enrich America's character. And so, in 1921, Duncan opened his collection to the public, creating America's first museum dedicated to modern art. Not long after, Duncan married Marjorie Acker, an aspiring artist inspired by Duncan's mixture of art savvy and determination. 

Duncan and Marjorie moved into his family's home in Washington D.C. and dedicated one of the wings as a gallery with a rotating selection of his ever-growing collection. So many people came by to see the gallery and mistook the family's front door for the gallery's basement entrance that the wing was enlarged and given a proper door for patrons. It's only grown from there.

The collection has gone through a recent rebranding. The new, suave logo is a remix of individual colors sampled from some of their greatest Hits: Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating PartyRothko's Orange and Red on Red, and Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series, Panel 1 to name a few. The logo features some big, beautiful colors...just the way Duncan liked 'em.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about The Phillips Collection

The Phillips Collection is an art museum founded by Duncan Phillips and Marjorie Acker Phillips in 1921 as the Phillips Memorial Gallery located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Phillips was the grandson of James H. Laughlin, a banker and co-founder of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company.

Among the artists represented in the collection are Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Gustave Courbet, El Greco, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Klee, Arthur Dove, Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, Jacob Lawrence, Augustus Vincent Tack, Georgia O'Keeffe, Karel Appel, Joan Miro, Mark Rothko and Berenice Abbott.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about The Phillips Collection.