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Home > Current events > Masterpieces From The Phillips Collection



At the Fondation Gianadda, the best of
America's first Modern Art Museum

Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, Phillips Collection. Oil on cloth .



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1920 Martigny, Suisse


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Once more the Phillips Collection is expanding. The first museum to introduce modern art to the american public - before the MoMa - grew from a collection of 230 pieces in 1921 to more than 2000 today . Until the works for the new galleries are finished in Washington, D.C., its most important treasures are on an international tour They will have only one stop in Europe, at the fondation Gianadda, in Martigny, Switzerland. A unique opportunity to see, among others, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir.

From Greco to Rothko

The collection that Duncan Phillips started, as a memorial after the death of his brother in 1918, included works by Greco and Chardin, as well as Cézanne and Degas. Open to the public as soon as 1921, the first museum dedicated to modern art in the United States. It gradually opened to contemporary art with complete series by Klee and Rothko. At the beginning, the collection was housed in just two rooms of the family's home but it was rapidly expanded. At the end of 2004, it will have an enlarged Goh Annex and a new center for modern art.

The centrepiece: Luncheon of the Boating Party

While the modern art center is being built, The Phillips Collection started a tour in order to share great works of art with new audiences as its founder had wished. After Houston, Buffalo or Denver, the fondation Gianadda will be the only European venue for this selection of nearly fifty masterworks. One of the highlights of the exhibition will be Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, that has not been seen in Europe, since the Grand Palais exhibition, nearly twenty years ago. It was painted in 1880-81 and bought by Duncan Phillips in 1923.

Love of color

There are many other treasures like Montagne Sainte-Victoire by Cézanne, acquired in 1925, or Van Gogh's 1898 Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles, Kokoschka's Portrait of Lotte Franzos Chardin's Bowl of Plumbs (c. 1728), Ingres' The Small Bather (1826) or Picasso's 1901 Blue Room . Modern American art is not overlooked with paintings by Hassam or Twatchman. Such a variety, made clear by the exhibition's title, Art Beyond Isms, shows the generous vision of Duncan Phillips, who thought in terms of universality and continuity of art across time, linking different periods in his love for color, the main structural element.


Exhibition catalogue, by Eliza E. Rathbone
248 p. ill., French-English, paper cover CHF 45 / € 31,50, bound CHF 58 / € 40

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