“Wavelengths” and “Fragments in Time and Space”: June Art Preview

Planning your month in Washington art

By: Sophie Gilbert

Two shows opening at the Phillips Collection this month take a focused look at works by similar artists. “Kandinsky and the Harmony of Silence” explores the Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky’s process by uniting one of his masterpieces, “Painting With White Border,” with 12 studies he made for the work as well as related pieces. “It was an opportunity to enrich our understanding of this point in his career,” says curator Elsa Smithgall. The finished “Painting With White Border” is on loan from the Guggenheim Museum, but the studies belong to other institutions, including the Phillips, where “Sketch 1” is part of the permanent collection. “ ‘Painting With White Border’ is very dense, very multilayered,” says Smithgall. “This exhibition gives you the chance to slow down, go deeper, and really look closely.”

“Stella Sounds: The Scarlatti K Series,” comprises several mixed-media works by contemporary American artist Frank Stella. Says Smithgall: “Stella has written extensively about Kandinsky and recognizes a certain dialogue between Kandinsky and his own art. There’s that beautiful painterliness in Stella’s works, but they also cross the boundary between painting, sculpture, and drawing.” Like Kandinsky’s, Stella’s inspiration frequently comes from music—in this case, Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti. Stella’s multicolored, swirling sculptures resemble musical notes, but they also echo the ordered chaos of Kandinsky’s paintings. Both exhibitions are on display June 11 through September 4; admission is $12. See the Phillips Collection’s Web site for more information.

The arts and disability organization VSA presents “Shift,” a juried exhibition of work by artists with disabilities, in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Gallery June 3 through 30. This year’s theme called on artists to express a moment that significantly altered their life, with curators from the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran, the Hirshhorn, and the National Portrait Gallery selecting the best entries for display. Free; see the Kennedy Center’s Web site for details.

Two new exhibitions open in DC’s Anacostia this month. “Wavelengths,” at the Honfleur Gallery, features two levels of site-specific installations themed around the concept of wavelengths by four female artists: Jessica Braiterman, Gretchen Schermerhorn, Yasmin Spiro, and Alexandra Radocchio Zealand (Schermerhorn and Zealand are from DC). “Documents: Alternative Guide to DC Underground,” at the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, brings together work by two local artists, photographer Yulia Graham and installation artist Ayodamola Okunseinde, who explore the nature of community. Both exhibitions run June 10 through July 22; more information is at the Honfleur Gallery’s Web site and Vivid Solutions’ Web site.

More than 400 ancient Italian artifacts are on display in “The Etruscans: An Ancient Italian Civilization,” which opens at the National Geographic Museum June 10. Dating from the ninth to the sixth century BC, items in the show include vases, tools, jewelry, sculpture, and weapons from the historic Etruscan period. Free; see the National Geographic’s Web site for more details.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Now series presents its second exhibition dedicated to contemporary and site specific work in June with “Chris Martin: Painting Big,” an installation of paintings by the DC-born artist. Martin’s vast, colorful canvases play on location, memory, and pattern, combining collage with abstract patterns and textures. Check out our upcoming July issue for a photo essay revealing Martin at work in his New York studio. June 18 through October 23; $10 (free on Saturdays); see the Corcoran’s Web site for more information.

The Hirshhorn takes a multdimensional look at contemporary art this month with “Fragments in Time and Space,” opening June 23. The exhibition compares pieces from the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection (by Thomas Eakins, Richard Long, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and more) and their exploration of time and space within art. Free. See the Hirshhorn’s Web site for more information.

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