13th January 2011

As Time Goes By at the Phillips Collection

<i>As Time Goes By</i> at the Phillips Collection

As Time Goes By (red) and (blue), Hodgkin’s largest prints, are on view at the Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. until 8 May. They hang in the first gallery that Duncan Phillips added to his house. Opened in 1921 it became America’s first museum of contemporary art. The two 20 foot long prints face one another and their impact is heightened by the approach, up some steps from an intimate space devoted to near-monochromatic, quietly English, small scale works by Ben Nicholson. Beyond the prints a room houses Torso, a painting that the Phillips Collection bought in 1971 in memory of Robert Cafritz.

The Phillips Collection celebrates its 90th birthday this year and has made a film in two parts about the conservation, hanging and storage of As Time Goes By, now available on Youtube. The technical details are riveting. Sylvia Albro, the museum’s paper conservationist, describes using Korean paper for the hinges, cut with a water brush to ensure a soft transition to the back of the print, and stuck on with boiled and filtered Japanese wheat starch paste. The film shows the back of the print and highlights the embossed effects produced by Hodgkin’s use of carborundum paste.

The red version of As Time Goes By is a promised gift of Luther W. Brady, who also helped the museum acquire the blue version, along with Mr. and Mrs. C. Richard Belger, Marion Oatsie Charles, Dr. and Mrs. Brian D. Dailey, Mr. L̀©onard Gianadda, Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan, Mr. and Mrs. Marc E. Leland, Caroline Macomber, B. Thomas Mansbach, Dr. and Mrs. Ronald A. Paul, Gifford and Joann Phillips, and Trish and George Vradenburg. Both prints were given in memory of Laughlin Phillips, the son of the museum’s founder, who became director in 1971.

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