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Duncan Phillips

The aggressively combative, competitive tone of a painting like Both Members of This Club in many ways reflected the character of a self-made businessman like Chester Dale. By contrast, Duncan Phillips, the scion of a wealthy Pittsburgh glass manufacturer, had a more self-contained, patrician manner. Both men collected French and American art. Paul Mellon remembered the relationship in blunt terms in his memoir Reflections in a Silver Spoon: “Dale hated Duncan, and the feeling was mutual. They were at different ends of the spectrum in personality, and I suspect that Chester was jealous of Duncan’s collection and his reputation as a connoisseur.”[1] Although the number and quality of the paintings Phillips gave to the Gallery paled in comparison to Dale’s prodigious gifts and did not include any American modernist works, his presence on the board and the guiding example of his Phillips Memorial Gallery would prove invaluable to Walker and Mellon, something they both readily attested to. In Self-Portrait with Donors, Walker noted how important Phillips’s early advisory role had been, especially given the lack of professional museum experience among staff and trustees in the Gallery’s first days: “Our ignorance was matched by that of all our trustees except one, Duncan Phillips, who became my dearest friend and greatest supporter. He created and ran the Phillips Memorial Gallery, an institution unique in the world, which seems to some of us the perfect museum. . . . In no other museum have I so enjoyed the contemplation of paintings, though there are only a few masterpieces and these mostly of modern art.”[2] Mellon, when asked late in life what person had influenced him the most, was said to have replied, “Duncan Phillips.”[3] If Both Members of This Club mirrored Dale’s character, then something of Phillips’s more gentle guiding spirit is evident in his first gift to the Gallery, Honoré Daumier’s Advice to a Young Artist [fig. 1].

Phillips had been supportive of the initial planning in the 1920s for a new national gallery even as he was dealing with the many challenges presented by his own experimental museum of modern art. In December 1924 he corresponded with Frank Mather, an art historian at Princeton University and vice chairman of the National Gallery Commission, regarding the “rising interest in a proposal for a greatly enlarged national gallery in Washington.” Phillips opined that “there is no imperative need that I should abandon my plan,” remarking optimistically that “there might be an opportunity to carry out my dream and at the same time help in the great project.”[4] The following year, Phillips began organizing an exhibition tentatively entitled Paintings by Great Masters with Mather and others for the Gallery’s suite of rooms at the Museum of Natural History.[5] A “loan exhibition of superb masterpieces,” the show was to have featured works by El Greco (Greek, 1541 - 1614), Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669), Frans Hals (Dutch, c. 1582/1583 - 1666), Jean Siméon Chardin (French, 1699 - 1779), Gustave Courbet (French, 1819 - 1877), Edouard Manet (French, 1832 - 1883), Edgar Degas (French, 1834 - 1917), Auguste Renoir (French, 1841 - 1919), Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 - 1906), James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834 - 1903), Albert Pinkham Ryder (American, 1847 - 1917), and others, with many drawn from the Mellon and Vanderbilt collections as well as from Phillips’s holdings. Though the exhibition was never realized, Phillips’s stated objective was to garner support for a new “Gallery Building by showing great pictures, which might well be donated to the National Gallery, in a totally inadequate setting.” In highlighting the shortcomings of the galleries at the Museum of Natural History the “Great Masters” show was intended to bring the merits of the new building project to the attention of “the great billionaire collectors” and further “impress upon Congress the need for a substantial appropriation.”[6] Phillips’s wife, Marjorie, recalled how his efforts for the National Gallery of Art “clarified his own museum objectives. He did not believe that a national gallery would necessarily displace his more individual collection.”[7]

Following his appointment to the first board of trustees, among Phillips’s most important contributions to “the great project” was keeping the Gallery well informed of and engaged with contemporary American art, something his ongoing work at his own museum made him uniquely qualified for. One of the first manifestations of Phillips’s role was the exhibition American Painting: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, organized by the National Gallery of Art and presented at the Tate Gallery in London in 1946.[8] This project had been set in motion shortly after the Allied victory. Walker was put in charge of 18th- and 19th-century American painting, while Phillips was made the chairman of the committee appointed to make the selection of 20th-century American art that also included Alfred Barr from MoMA and Juliana Force from the Whitney. The show brought together an astonishingly wide and diverse swath of leading contemporary artists from all camps: Ivan Le Lorraine Albright (American, 1897 - 1983), Milton Avery (American, 1885 - 1965), Thomas Hart Benton (American, 1889 - 1975), Peter Blume (American, 1906 - 1992), Charles Burchfield (American, 1893 - 1967), Paul Cadmus (American, 1904 - 1999), Stuart Davis (American, 1892 - 1964), Charles Demuth (American, 1883 - 1935), Marsden Hartley (American, 1877 - 1943), Edward Hopper (American, 1882 - 1967), Yasuo Kuniyoshi (American, born Japan, 1889 - 1953), Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917 - 2000), Reginald Marsh (American, 1898 - 1954), Alfred H. Maurer (American, 1868 - 1932), Robert Motherwell (American, 1915 - 1991), Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887 - 1986), Horace Pippin (American, 1888 - 1946), Man Ray (American, 1890 - 1976), Ben Shahn (American, 1898 - 1969), Charles Sheeler (American, 1883 - 1965), Mark Tobey (American, 1890 - 1976), Grant Wood (American, 1891 - 1942), and many others.[9] The Tate Gallery exhibition “assembled” by the National Gallery of Art belied the prevailing notion of the Gallery as out of touch with contemporary developments and devoted solely to European Old Masters. It also proved to be something of a guide or blueprint for future acquisitions. In time, works by almost all of the artists represented in the London show would enter the Gallery’s collection.[10]

Phillips also helped the Gallery forge relationships with the artists of the Stieglitz circle in a number of ways. A humorous moment occurred when John Marin (American, 1870 - 1953), after attending a formal dinner hosted by Phillips, misplaced his official invitation while en route to the Gallery’s gala opening reception in 1941. Phillips’s associate director, Law Watkins, suggested to Marin that he try to bluff his way into the party by impersonating Watkins’s wife, a feat Marin accomplished, though not without a few skeptical glances from the guards, by simply donning a long raincoat and combing his signature mop of long, unruly hair forward to cover his face.[11] Eight years later, significant works by Marin, widely considered to be America’s preeminent modern artist, would enter the museum’s collections through a series of less unusual, if no less complicated, negotiations between Phillips and Walker with the executor of Alfred Stieglitz’s estate, Georgia O’Keeffe.

Following the death of the legendary photographer and gallerist in 1946, Phillips had initiated discussions between the Gallery and O’Keeffe about the disposition of the Stieglitz estate early in 1948. Consisting of hundreds of American and European works shown at Stieglitz’s various galleries from 1906 to 1946, the bequest surveyed the history of early modernism in singular ways, something that Phillips, perhaps more than anyone other than O’Keeffe herself, fully appreciated. Moreover, Phillips clearly understood the implications of gifts from the Stieglitz collections, including Stieglitz’s photographs, for American modernism at the Gallery, writing to O’Keeffe: “Such a standard would be set for the proposed collection of contemporary American pictures by such a gift that I would make it my responsibility to keep subsequent purchases . . . on a level not too far below such a beginning.”[12] In a memorandum to the executive officers dated February 1, 1949, Walker reported: “Several months ago, at the request of Mr. Duncan Phillips . . . I discussed with Miss Georgia O’Keeffe the possibility of her donating to the National Gallery the ‘key’ set of her husband Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs. Mr. Phillips is most enthusiastic about the project, for it will also mean that Miss O’Keeffe will give the Gallery a certain number of paintings by John Marin, Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and herself.” Walker then offered a congenial solution to the roadblock presented by the 20-year clause: “These pictures, not being eligible at present for the National Gallery, can be lent to the Phillips Gallery for exhibition. . . . This arrangement is entirely satisfactory to Mr. Phillips and to Miss O’Keeffe.”[13] The gifts from the Stieglitz Collection—three Marin watercolors, one Hartley oil, one painting by Dove, and, most significantly, more than 1,600 Stieglitz photographs—were announced to the public in a press release dated June 29, 1949.[14] Other major parts of the collection were also distributed simultaneously to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Fisk University.[15]

Phillips’s mention of “the proposed collection of contemporary American pictures” in his letter to O’Keeffe referred to a substantial endowment established at the Gallery in December 1946 with the express instruction that it “be used and applied for the acquisition of contemporary works of art by American artists, and in other ways to encourage contemporary American Art.”[16] The source of the fund, anonymous at the time, was the Avalon Foundation, the philanthropic organization established in 1940 by Paul Mellon’s sister, Ailsa Mellon Bruce.[17] In July 1948, Phillips wrote to John Walker in support of Walker’s “great idea,” advanced by Walker and Avalon trustee Donald Shepard, to apply the income generated by the endowment for an exhibition of “fifty contemporary American paintings, by five artists, selected by five authorities, every other year.”[18] This tantalizing prospect would never come to pass. Instead, once again in deference to the 20-year rule governing contemporary art and to better address the readily apparent deficiencies in the Gallery’s American collections in general, a number of exceptions to the fund’s guidelines were soon made so that American art from all periods could be purchased.[19] Case-by-case approvals were no longer necessary after the Avalon Foundation formally agreed to change the terms of the fund in 1957.[20] Over the years, the endowment would make possible numerous major acquisitions ranging from Winslow Homer’s Right and Left (1909) in 1951 to The Judgment Day (1939) by Aaron Douglas in 2014.[21]

O’Keeffe, as a modernist, was not averse to the notion that the old must give way to the new. Most likely reflecting her knowledge of the Museum of Modern Art’s guidelines, she was willing to give all the institutions that received items from the Stieglitz bequest the leeway to sell their paintings and works on paper (with the exception of Stieglitz’s Key Set) if they were to determine after 25 or 50 years that they “have no further use for them.”[22] She understood that “as these paintings are contemporary work, public opinion concerning them is still being made,” and felt that once she had distributed the collection it “must make its own way.”[23] O’Keeffe’s iconoclastic attitude and modernist sensibility, as well as her incisive wit, was evident in her reaction to the austere empty spaces of the Gallery itself. She appreciated them in essentially the same way she enjoyed the clean, spare, modernist interiors of Stieglitz’s last gallery, An American Place, or the pristine white spaces of her home and studio in Abiquiú, New Mexico:

I know the National Gallery hasn’t a speck of dust in it anywhere. . . . Maybe it should just be closed and pointed to as the perfect place—financed by the government but closed because nothing had to be done about it—The assistant curator pointed to a very large door—‘Behind that door is unfinished space where American Art will be hung if we ever decide to open a section for it.’ I don’t mind if they keep the door closed.[24]

 

In the case of the National Gallery of Art, O’Keeffe’s willingness to allow deaccessioning was moot; the Gallery’s policy essentially forbade it. The 20-year rule, by contrast, sowed confusion and misunderstanding when O’Keeffe tried to augment her gift by placing on loan a number of works by Demuth and herself that she personally owned. Walker met with O’Keeffe in New York on May 11, 1949, and together they selected three items to present to Phillips and the other members of the Gallery’s acquisitions committee: Chimney and Water Tower by Demuth and O’Keeffe’s Cow’s Skull on Red and Line and Curve [fig. 2].[25] That September the committee responded enthusiastically to the O’Keeffes but thought that Demuth would be better represented by his work in watercolor rather than oil.[26] Before O’Keeffe could respond, Walker wrote again to inform her that the committee had reconsidered its policy regarding contemporary art and had “decided that custodianship of paintings which would not be exhibited at the National Gallery represented so many difficulties and complexities that the policy hereafter would be to ask prospective donors of contemporary art to give these pictures to other galleries, such as the National Collection of Fine Arts or the Phillips Gallery that work in close cooperation with the National Gallery.”[27] This led O’Keeffe, quite reasonably, to question the Gallery’s commitment to her, Demuth, and the other Stieglitz artists.[28] Walker calmed the waters by installing all the Stieglitz-group paintings in his office and writing to reassure O’Keeffe “once more that my own enthusiasm for your paintings has never changed from my student days at Harvard in the twenties until the present time. I may say the same of my admiration for Demuth, Marin, and Dove.”[29] Reflecting the dynamic and unstable relationship between modernism and museums that prevailed at the time, the Gallery’s relationship with O’Keeffe would continue to be tested, and at times strained, up until her death in 1986. But it endured, and, following the abandonment of the 20-year rule in 1963, gradually benefitted the Gallery in ever more substantial ways, allowing it to better represent the Stieglitz artists and, by extension, the history of American modernism.[30]

More than Phillips’s breadth of knowledge about the contemporary art world or his personal connections with the Stieglitz group, it was his profound understanding of the dilemma, articulated so clearly by Gertrude Stein, of how to reconcile the inherently radical modern and the inherently conservative museum that proved to be his essential contribution to the National Gallery of Art. Phillips described his gallery as “a museum of modern art and its sources,” and from its founding in 1918 he had always believed that the old and the new, the past and the present, the ancient and the modern, if not completely reconcilable, could nevertheless be kept in fruitful dialogue with each other. In November 1929, the year MoMA opened, Phillips wrote: “Modernist art is not a revolution. It has evolved, like every other period, in a logical and gradual way. Its roots are deep in the remote past. . . . Our age, like every other, has its significant minorities, its non-conforming types, its contradictory and conflicting elements.”[31] For Phillips, even the most radical modernist ruptures and divisions were tied to history and hence within the purview of traditional museums.

When the National Gallery of Art was still in its infancy, the Phillips Memorial Gallery, situated in a quiet residential area near Dupont Circle in Washington, became an ideal crucible for testing ideas about how to present American modernism on the Mall at the foot of Capitol Hill. The solutions, both theoretical and practical, that Duncan Phillips worked out on an intimate, domestic scale at his “experiment station” beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the 1960s proved to be directly relevant to the Gallery’s “great project” and its national, burgeoning, public mission. The prime example of this was Phillips’s decision to connect his collection’s original Georgian revival home to a modern wing via a skywalk in 1960. Bridging historic and modern architectural forms, the new arrangement was one of the last and most important manifestations of Phillips’s lifelong exploration of what a modern museum might be. It would serve as an important model for Walker and his successor, J. Carter Brown, as well as for Phillips’s longtime friend, admirer, and fellow trustee, Paul Mellon, as planning began for a modern addition to the National Gallery of Art shortly after Phillips’s death in 1966.

Paul Mellon, well versed in classical humanities, a supporter of the renowned modern psychologist Carl Jung, and a patron of modern architecture, shared much of Phillips’s interest in the cultural and historical antecedents of modernism.[32] Having already worked with Aero Saarinen and Louis Kahn, Mellon enthusiastically supported the Building Committee’s selection of the modernist architect I. M. Pei. Authorized by Congress and paid for entirely with Mellon funds, including those provided by Mellon’s sister Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the new wing was shepherded to completion in 1978 by the Gallery’s young director, J. Carter Brown.[33] Mirroring many of the same ideas Phillips had espoused at his museum but on a much grander scale, Pei’s masterful plan set up a rich dialogue between the modern East Building and John Russell Pope’s classical design for the 1941 West Building. Pei’s trapezoidal design managed to contradict the stately, classical ordering of Pope’s edifice and at the same time to harmonize with it. The subterranean concourse level that lay beneath the cobblestone plaza between the two buildings enabled visitors to shuttle back and forth between them and to experience on multiple levels how modernism was deeply embedded and interconnected with the history of Western culture. Yet when surveyed from the ground level, with the plaza’s jagged, metal and glass pyramidal shards starkly set against the majestic marble calm of Pope’s building, Pei’s East Building could also be interpreted as something apart and in opposition to the classical Western tradition. The dialogue that the East Building initiated with the West Building provided an elastic conceptual and architectural framework for ongoing explorations into the nature of modern art in general and American modernism in particular at the Gallery.[34] By brilliantly confronting the dilemma of what a modern national museum could be, the East Building set the stage for the Gallery’s remarkable growth in scholarship, exhibitions, education, conservation, and collecting. Constructed 40 years after the Saarinens’ visionary plan for the Smithsonian Art Gallery and at a point when there was much greater historical perspective concerning the accomplishments of the first generation of American modernists, Pei’s masterpiece was a building whose time had come.

Notes

[1] Paul Mellon, Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir (New York, 1992), 308.

[2] John Walker, Self-Portrait with Donors: Confessions of an Art Collector (Boston, 1969), 35.

[3] This is recounted by Paul Richard, “The Man Who Left a Good Impressionist,” The Washington Post, March 15, 1999, A6.

[4] Letter from Phillips to Mather, Dec. 12, 1924, Phillips Collection Archives. Also see Marjorie Phillips, Duncan Phillips and His Collection (Boston, 1970), 112, 208.

[5] This exhibition is documented in the Phillips Collection Archives, Box 3, Folder N 1925. Phillips was chairman of the committee of selection. The chairman of the exhibition committee was Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis, wife of the grandson of the founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, William Wilson Corcoran.

[6] Marjorie Phillips, Duncan Phillips and His Collection (Boston, 1970), 112.

[7] Marjorie Phillips, Duncan Phillips and His Collection (Boston, 1970), 112.

[8] American Painting: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day (London, 1946).

[9] Other artists represented were Hyman Bloom (American, 1913 - 2009), Guy Pène du Bois (American, 1884 - 1958), John Steuart Curry (American, 1897 - 1946), Arthur B. Davies (American, 1862 - 1928), Preston Dickinson, Arthur Dove (American, 1880 - 1946), Philip Evergood (American, 1901 - 1973), William Glackens (American, 1870 - 1938), Morris Graves (American, 1910 - 2001), William Gropper (American, 1897 - 1977), John Kane, Bernard Karfiol (American, 1886 - 1952), Karl Knaths (American, 1891 - 1971), Jack Levine (American, 1915 - 2010), Loren MacIver (American, born 1909), Peppino Mangravite (American, 1896 - 1978), John Marin (American, 1870 - 1953), Jerome Myers (American, 1867 - 1940), I. Rice Pereira (American, 1902 - 1971), Joseph Stella (American, 1877 - 1946), Maurice Sterne (American, 1877/1878 - 1957), Max Weber (American, born Poland, 1881 - 1961), and William Zorach (American, 1887 - 1966).

[10] The only American modernists in the exhibition not currently represented in the Gallery’s collection are Preston Dickinson and John Kane.

[11] Recounted in Marjorie Phillips, Duncan Phillips and His Collection (Boston, 1970), 102–103.

[12] Phillips to O’Keeffe, Feb. 4, 1948, Phillips Collection Archives. The letter is worth quoting at length: “It was good to see you at An American Place and to have a little talk with you about the distribution of the treasures left by Stieglitz to different museums. I do hope you will donate, as you suggested you might, to the National Gallery in Washington a few outstanding examples of Stieglitz, O’Keeffe, Marin, Demuth, and Dove. . . . There could not be a better start than a group of photographs by the greatest of photographers, three watercolors by the greatest master of watercolors, and selected works by you and Demuth and Dove and perhaps Hartley. That may be too much to hope for in consideration of the expectations of the other museums. But please do not leave Washington out of your plans.”

[13] National Gallery of Art Archives.

[14] National Gallery of Art Archives.

[15] The Met received 428 works, Chicago 114 works, Philadelphia 31 works, and Fisk University 101 works. See Sarah Greenough, ed., Modern Art in America: Alfred Stieglitz and His New York Galleries (Washington, DC, 2001); and Lisa Mintz Messinger, Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O’Keeffe; The Alfred Stieglitz Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2011).

[16] Letter from Donald D. Shepard, cotrustee of the Avalon Foundation, to the trustees of the National Gallery of Art, Dec. 27, 1946, National Gallery of Art Archives. The Avalon trustees were Shephard, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, and Paul Mellon.

[17] For an insightful study of the elusive and private Bruce, see Mary Morton, “Ailsa Mellon Bruce: Art Collector and Patron of the National Gallery of Art,” in Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC, 2013), 13–28. It is unclear what motivated Bruce to set up a fund for contemporary American art. She did not collect American modernist works and there is little evidence of her interest in the area.

[18] Letter from Duncan Phillips to John Walker, July 27, 1948, National Gallery of Art Archives. In Walker’s letter to Phillips, July 21, 1948, National Gallery of Art Archives, Walker had expressed his concerns about purchasing contemporary art with the Avalon Fund: "I feel certain that the Gallery will be given the most important Twentieth Century American paintings in time. Therefore, it is not essential for us to try to buy such pictures out of the Avalon funds, since in doing so we are bound to make enemies of those artists whose work is not acquired.” Walker then outlined his criteria for the Gallery’s biannual: “1. An exhibition of modern painting which will enhance the prestige of the National Gallery of Art and show its interest in living artists. 2. An exhibition which will avoid the criticism directed toward all other exhibitions of contemporary art today, such as that: A. Exhibitions of modern art are confusing, being too big and too heterogeneous. B. Juries make awards only to obscure artists. C. Juries are too ‘Modern’ or too ‘Conservative.’ 3. An exhibition which will not compete with the Corcoran Biannual of Modern American Paintings or the similar exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. 4. An exhibition small enough to fit into the Central Gallery of the National Gallery of Art.”

[19] The restrictions were clearly defined in the December 27, 1946, letter (see note 34). They specified that the income from the fund was only to go to artists living in the United States for more than five years and only for works produced in the last ten years.

[20] Letter from G. Lauder Greenway, cotrustee, Avalon Foundation, to John Walker, April 15, 1957, National Gallery of Art Archives: “The fund may be used for the acquisitions of any American work of art of any period rather than limiting such acquisitions to works produced not more than ten years prior to the date of acquisition.”

[21] Other important works of American modernism purchased with the Avalon Fund were Max Weber’s Rush Hour, New York in 1970, Arthur Dove’s Rain in 1997, and the film Manhatta by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand in 2008. On June 30, 1969, the Avalon Foundation and Paul Mellon’s Old Dominion Foundation were consolidated to form the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Acquisitions made after that date are credited as “Avalon Fund.”

[22] See Georgia O’Keeffe, “Stieglitz: His Pictures Collected Him,” The New York Times, Dec. 11, 1949, SM24. Also see letter from O’Keeffe to David E. Finley, June 21, 1949, National Gallery of Art Archives: “It is my understanding that the National Gallery of Art will not sell or exchange any of the paintings in the Stieglitz Collection for at least fifty years, and that it will not sell or exchange any of the Stieglitz photographs at any time.”

[23] Letter from O’Keeffe to John Walker, Feb. 22, 1949; and Georgia O’Keeffe, “Stieglitz: His Pictures Collected Him,” The New York Times, Dec. 11, 1949, SM24.

[24] Letter from O’Keeffe to Chabot, Dec. 18, 1948, in Barbara Buhler Lynes and Ann Paden, eds., Maria Chabot—Georgia O’Keeffe: Correspondence, 1941–1949 (Albuquerque, 2003), 473.

[25] The meeting is referenced in a memorandum dated May 13, 1949, written by John Walker, National Gallery of Art Archives. The three works were apparently never shown publicly at the Gallery.

[26] Walker to O’Keeffe, Oct. 4, 1949, National Gallery of Art Archives.

[27] Walker to O’Keeffe, Dec. 7, 1949, National Gallery of Art Archives.

[28] Walker to O’Keeffe, Jan. 24, 1950, National Gallery of Art Archives.

[29] Walker to O’Keeffe, Jan. 24, 1950, National Gallery of Art Archives.

[30] The three works placed on permanent loan to the Gallery in 1949 were eventually returned to O’Keeffe. Line and Curve was given to the Gallery, along with other important paintings by O’Keeffe, as part of the O’Keeffe bequest in 1987 and designated as part of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection. In 1994 Demuth’s Chimney and Water Tower was acquired by the Amon Carter Museum and Cow’s Skull on Red was purchased by Myron Kunin for his Curtis Galleries in Minneapolis.

[31] Duncan Phillips, “The Many Mindedness of Modern Painting,” Art and Understanding 1, no. 1 (Nov. 1929): 50–51.

[32] See Paul Mellon, Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir (New York, 1992); and John Wilmerding, ed., Essays in Honor of Paul Mellon, Collector and Benefactor (Washington, DC, 1986).

[33] On J. Carter Brown, see Neil Harris, Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience (Chicago, 2013).

[34] The majority of the Gallery’s monographic exhibitions devoted to the accomplishments of the American modernists have occurred since the East Building opened in 1977: John Sloan (1971), George Bellows (1957, 1962, 1983, 2012), Edward Hopper (2007), Alfred Stieglitz (1958, 1968, 1983, 1992, 2002), Georgia O’Keeffe (1987, 2000), John Marin (1990), Paul Strand (1990), and Charles Sheeler (2006). The East Building also provided a proper context for displaying important works like The Aero by Marsden Hartley (American, 1877 - 1943) as part of the permanent modern collection. Before 1977, only works by the Henri circle, namely the major paintings by Bellows, were consistently on view in the West Building. In 2016, the Gallery, in conjunction with the launch of this online catalog, inaugurated its first permanent collection gallery devoted to the Stieglitz group in the East Building.