- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 14, 2002

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. Mr. Kainen's intense political allegiances show in his collecting Honore Daumier lithographs and American prints from the 1930s. His career as an artist in New York, also in the 1930s, led him to the work of John Graham and David Smith.
"He loved prints, he loved making them, he loved having them," his widow, Ruth Kainen, remembers. "He liked all kinds, all methods, the only ones he didn't like were reproductive or fussy prints. He collected from every era. He claimed not to be a collector because he felt that collecting held him back as an artist. He didn't want to be known as a collector, just as an accumulator."
Mr. Myers had one particular passion: Anatolian carpets. As an heir to what is now the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug company, , he had the money to found the Textile Museum in 1925, focusing on collecting rugs from Anatolia, or the Asian part of Turkey. He had purchased his first Oriental rug as an undergraduate at Yale University and went on to acquire many others.
One of the most important exhibits recently mounted by the museum, "The Classical Tradition in Anatolian Carpets" draws heavily on 15th- through 19th-century weavings originally collected by Mr. Hewitt. Guest curator Walter B. Denny, one of the foremost authorities on Anatolian weavings and professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, selected more than 50 carpets showing what he calls "the creative tension that exists between tradition and innovation, sameness and change." The exhibit provides a unique opportunity to see rugs prized as luxury items in the West by artists such as Johannes Vermeer and other 17th-century Dutch painters and rich American colonial merchants.
Washington offers a rich museum- and gallery-going experience in the coming months, and there should be something for just about everyone. A good place to begin is at the National Gallery with "Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l'Oeil Painting" (opening Oct. 13) and "Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure" (opening Sept. 29).
"Trompe l'Oeil" means "fool the eye" the artistic ability to portray an object so skillfully it seems real and the tradition has a long history beginning in antiquity. It includes such masters of the genre as Americans William Harnett and John Frederick Peto and Frenchman Louis-Leopold Boilly. The exhibit promises to be the most comprehensive overview to date and pun intended a real eye-opener.
The abstract-expressionist painter Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) is most famous for his impastoed, slashed paintings of bizarre-looking women. Now, the exhibit "Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure" (opening Sept. 29) shows his early struggles in drawing the female form from 1940 to 1955. The Corcoran Gallery of Art showed similar studies last year but the National Gallery is exhibiting a much larger number of them.
The Washington area has always been big on historic shows. In addition to those mentioned, the National Gallery opens "Drawing on America's Past: Folk Art and the Index of American Design" Nov. 7. The Gallery acquired The Index of American Design, originally established to chronicle America's decorative, folk and popular arts 60 years ago.
It's a bit of a hike to Baltimore but no one should miss "Painted Prints: The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance & Baroque Engravings, Etchings & Woodcuts" at the Baltimore Museum of Art opening Oct. 6. One hundred exquisite prints by masters such as Albrecht Altdorfer, Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Durer demonstrate the hand-painting of black-and-white Renaissance prints with brilliant colors.
The Folger Shakespeare Library's exhibits are special treasures. The current show, "A Shared Passion: Henry Clay Folger Jr., and Emily Jordan Folger as Collectors," demonstrates the couple's shared passion for collecting all things Shakespearean. The Folgers are best known for their vast trove of books and manuscripts, but their prints, maps, works of art and Shakespearean memorabilia are also important (through Oct. 26).
"Thys Boke Is Myne," opening Nov. 13, traces how such bibliophiles as William Caxton and Langston Hughes have indicated ownership of their treasured books with inscriptions, mottoes, manuscript additions, bookplates, armorials and binding stamps.
"Marie Beale: Antiquarian, Ambassadress and Adventuress," the inaugural exhibit in Decatur House's newly completed exhibition gallery, looks at the many roles of its last private owner. Mrs. Beale, a legendary society hostess of the 1930s, '40s and '50s, saved the historic former residence of Admiral Stephen Decatur from demolition and bequeathed it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation after her death. The many objects in the exhibit of silver, ceramics, books, sculpture and paintings will be on view from Sept. 26 through Jan. 19.
Shows focusing on art from peoples around the world include the recently opened "George Catlin and His Indian Gallery" at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery (through Jan. 19). Catlin (1796-1872), a lawyer turned artist, painted a collection of American Indian portraits, landscapes and villages on the Western frontier land west of the Mississippi from 1830 to 1836. He called it his "Indian Gallery." The exhibition shows 400 of the extremely rare original paintings from the series. It is the most comprehensive display of the artist's work in more than a century and includes artifacts the artist collected while in Plains Indian country.
"Art of the Ancient Americas," opening at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum is on a 10-year loan from the directors of the Austen-Stokes Ancient Americas Foundation Inc. These 120 rarely-seen objects have survived from the major civilizations of Mesoamerica Olmec, Maya and Teotihuacan, among others and date from 2500 B.C. to A.D.1520.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery always mounts the best of Asian art. "Masterful Illusions, Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection," opening tomorrow, offers 120 first-rate Japanese woodblock prints. The show of works produced between 1615 and 1868 features prints of famed Kabuki actors from the cities of Edo and Osaka. Miss van Biema has promised them as a future gift to the Sackler.
"The Sensuous and the Sacred: Chola Bronzes from South India," opening Nov. 10, are among the most spectacular of Indian sculptures. The bronzes were produced during the Chola dynasty between the 9th and 13th centuries as portable deities and were carefully tended by priests who presided over many complex religious rituals.
"Palaces and Pavilions: Grand Architecture in Chinese Painting" focuses on 26 paintings of historical palaces, imaginary dwellings of gods and immortals and publicly important pavilions (opening Sept. 29).
Contemporary and modern art exhibits are rarely dull in Washington, especially this year with the work of pioneer feminist artist Judy Chicago opening Oct. 11 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Another intriguing show is "Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera, 1962-1972" at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden that opens Oct. 24. The loosely knit Italian art movement Arte Povera ("Poor Art") reflected students' and workers' strikes at the end of a 1960s economic boom in Italy and projected its own revolutionary practices in the arts by using coal, wood, wool, glass and plaster.
After a hiatus of two years, Art-0-Matic is back with a monthlong, non-juried celebration of D.C. artists, musicians, filmmakers and performers. This year, the celebration by 1,000 artists is in the old Environmental Protection Agency's building at Waterfront (formerly the Waterfront Mall), 401 M St. SW. It opens Oct. 31.
Conner Contemporary Art show cases Washington Color School artist Thomas Downing (through Oct. 25) while the Salve Regina Gallery of Catholic University exhibits his color school companion Howard Mehring. (Mr. Mehring's show opens Sept. 24). Paintings by both famed color school artists are from the Vincent Melzac Collection.
Upcoming contemporary arts exhibits at the Corcoran Gallery of Art include:
"Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs," through Nov. 11;
"The Shape of Color: Joan Miro's Painted Sculpture," Sept. 21 through Jan. 6;
"Fantasy Underfoot: The 47th Corcoran Biennial Exhibition, Dec. 21 through March 10
On the calendar at other galleries:
"The Road to Rome: A Modern Pilgrimage" (Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, Oct. 11 through May 7);
"Roland Fischer: Facades" (G Fine Art, through Oct. 26);
"Jason Phillips: Highway to Hell" and "Siemon Allen: Newspapers" (Fusebox, through Oct. 27);
"Echoes of Memory: Sherry Zvares Sanabria: Paintings" (American Institute of Architects Headquarters Gallery, through Jan. 2);
"The Emergence of Modern Greek Painting, 1830-1930" (Federal Reserve System Gallery, through Dec. 3);
"Ringside: The Boxing Paintings and Sculptures of Joseph Sheppard" (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Nov. 10 through March 9);
"Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress" (through Nov. 2).

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