The Phillips Collection: Bringing Light and Color to the NCMA

The North Carolina Museum of Art is reimagining the way we appreciate designs of all kinds. In the past few months, the museum has adopted a new logo, reopened its West Building after a remodel, and introduced various new exhibitions. One of the most noteworthy is A Modern Vision, showcasing over 50 paintings from the Phillips Collection, the first modern art museum in America. 

Viewers of the traveling exhibition will view walls of original works by famous artists in various sizes and mediums. Most paintings are still bordered by their original, ornate frames. When I visited the museum in mid-October, I was surprised to see that the art was in such pristine condition, as most of it was over 100 years old. Most creations are oil on canvas, the most popular combination of the impressionist and expressionist movements. Some are small, only the size of a sheet of paper, while some canvases are as large as a twin-size bed. One room of the exhibit allows viewers to experience life the way Wassily Kandinsky would have. Kandinsky was a Russian painter who experienced synesthesia, and heard a certain instrument when he saw a specific color.

There is something to interest everyone, including a gift shop and a table for kids to color on paper replicas of the art in the museum. Until January 22nd, the final day to visit the collection, the NCMA is hosting recurring events with focuses on college students, members of the museum, and families. Being the collector I am, I had to stop at the store and pick up yet another poster to plaster on my bedroom wall.

The North Carolina Museum of Art, located right here in Raleigh, is lucky enough to be the latest museum around the world to house A Modern Vision. This archive boasts pieces from notable European artists like Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso, and focuses on the art movements in the 19th-early 20th centuries known as impressionism, post-impressionism, and expressionism. Paintings during this post-Renaissance wave are characterized by styles like vibrant colors, high emotion, and distorted features. 

 While many people know me as a Van Gogh enthusiast, many of my favorite pieces in the showing were lesser known, hidden gems. Pablo Picasso is known for his abstract surrealism and angular portraits, but Woman with Green Hat struck me as interesting because of his muse’s colorful clothing and exaggerated facial features. It was almost as if a toddler drew the picture and Picasso colored, shadowed, and highlighted with paint. Georges Braque’s The Shower was inspired by the early-20th century Fauve movement, an offshoot of impressionism that uses bold brushstrokes and lively colors. 

If you want to see the masterpieces for yourself, you can order tickets through the NCMA website. A Modern Vision is the perfect introduction for those of us who want a comprehensive guide to art history and appreciation.