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"A Collector's Cabinet: Whistler's Lithographs and 20th Century American Prints from the Collection of Steven Block"
2000-06-07 until 2000-08-20
Phillips Collection
Washington, DC, USA

The last medium he explored, lithography is now considered to be Whistler's ultimate, most abstract, and personal expression. Whistler's lithographs depict, with a unique tenderness, daily scenes and people particularly close to him. They are more than surface arrangements—the lithographs transfix the moment and demonstrate the subtle power of artistic selectivity.

The understated eloquence of Whistler's lithographs connects the personal exploration of Whistler with the experimentation of early American modernists. Admired by artists, including Alfred Stieglitz, Whistler's contribution became increasingly recognized in his homeland with a profusely illustrated catalogue produced by E.G. Kennedy in 1914 and large showings of his lithographs at the Kennedy Galleries in the mid-teens. The lithographs empowered artists to pursue the essence of modern expression: inventiveness and originality. As Whistler stated in 1885, during his Ten O'Clock Lecture, the artist is born to pick, and choose. Since 1978, at a time when Whistler's lithographs were virtually ignored by the museum world and the art market, Steven Block has been amassing the most comprehensive private collection of Whistler lithographs extant. In this exhibit, we have wedded that collection provocatively with works by John Sloan, Reginald Marsh, John Marin, and Grant Wood, among others. A Collector's Cabinet exposes the crucial continuity between Whistler's aestheticism and American modernism by aligning the poetry of Whistler's lithographs with the magnetism and movement in works on paper by some of the early 20th century's leading American artists. IMAGE: James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) La Belle Dame Endormie, 1894 Transfer lithograph Collection of Steven Block


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