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Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition

June 8, 2020

The Phillips Collection is offering a virtual tour of Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition.


Works by African American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries together with examples by the early 20th century European artists with whom they engaged are explored. Romare Bearden, Robert Colescott, Renee Cox, Wassily Kandinsky, Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Faith Ringgold, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems are among the featured artists.

Hank Willis Thomas Icarus (2016) Quilt (Photo by: © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York) Hank Willis Thomas Icarus (2016) Quilt

African American artists have interrogated and immersed themselves in European modernist art since its rise to prominence in the early 20th century. This period also saw a critical growth of professional African American artists, many of whom engaged modernist styles and sensibilities as they claimed the power to represent and define themselves, their histories, and their cultures. In the early part of the century, African American artists were nourished by the advances of Post-Impressionist, Cubist, and expressionist art.


They contributed to modernism’s new languages of form, liberated use of color, and complex engagement with the arts of Africa. But in later years, artists began challenging master narratives. Using humor and satire, they created “riffs” to question the supposed superiority of European art, exposing its fraught association with people of color. The push and pull of these relationships became a distinct tradition in African American artistic practice. 

Hale Woodruff The Card Players (1930) (Photo by: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, George A. Hearn Fund, 2015 ) Hale Woodruff The Card Players (1930)

The African American and European artists in this exhibition have engaged modernism in different time periods and varied artistic and social contexts. These paintings, sculptures, photographs, and works on paper enhance the story of modern and contemporary American art by presenting compelling works born of these riffs and relations.


Enjoy a gallery-by-gallery tour of Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition here.

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Virtual Talkback with Animator Radford Sechrist May 26th

May 21, 2020

You are invited to a special virtual talkback with animator Radford Sechrist on Tuesday, May 26th, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.  


Creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Netflix original series, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Radford is a well-known professional animator who has worked on classic feature films including MegamindKung Fu Panda 2How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Boss Baby. 


He also teaches his craft at the California Institute of the Arts, Academy of Art University, Concept Design Academy, and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. 


Open to all George Washington University students, alumni, and artists in the DC community.


RSVP here.


Watch a trailer of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.

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Supporting Georgetown While Staying Safe

April 30, 2020

The Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) has listed resources to assist our community during these challenging times.


The vitality of our restaurants and retail is of huge concern over the coming months and beyond.


Please click here for a list of Georgetown restaurants still offering carry-out and delivery; retail shops that are offering gift card specials, free shipping and more (most businesses offer online shopping!); the ways in which you can support local business in alternative ways during this time; and how our businesses are giving back to others. 


You can also support our community by being responsible and following DC’s stay-at-home order and CDC guidelines. 

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