all photos: Jeff Martin, Dakota Fine, Blink OfAnEye, review by: Rachel Pafe, with many thank yous to The Phillips Collection and Malmaison for hosting us, and CIROC Amaretto, Pernod Absinthe, Stella Artois and Onomonomedia for helping make this happen
Georges Braque declared that, “art is polymorphic. A picture appears to each onlooker under a different guise”. Unstill Life, a collaborative event with The Phillips Collection and BYT, merged the still life works of French artist Georges Braque with contemporary music, drink and gallery tours to create an ambiance that was anything but stationary. Inspired by Braque and Bastille Day, Cubist juxtapositions became reality as guests used all of their senses to explore the ever-changing work of a revolutionary artist.
After being guided through the main lobby by the throbbing beats of DJ Tommy Cornelis, doors opened to a courtyard brimming with people enjoying the late afternoon breeze. Leaning against the crumble of a brick wall, I furtively devoured the cucumbers from my Absinthe Pernod cocktail and unabashedly stared at the talented electric cellist, Wytold.
My friend nudged me and asked, “what about the tour?” Yes, the whole art part of the museum. We made our way up the stairs and listened to a gallery talk on “Playful Inventions: Repetition and Rhyme in Braque’s Still Lifes”. Admittedly, I have seen the Braque exhibition twice before, but this time proved that there is something to discover every time I look at the work. My first tour taught me the hidden genius of Braque’s work after he parted ways with Cubism co-founder Picasso, while my second viewing taught me that my grandma can both reveal the intricate details of color/line and frighten museum guards by inching too close to the canvases. My third time around, I discovered the parallels between art and music in Braque’s works.
The works felt at one visually and auditorily tactile. Demure and aggressive lines playfully meet in works peppered with sheet music and guitars. Limited colors crescendo from pale to intense, resonating in objects that toy the line of abstracted and completely abstract. This is especially apparent in works such as Still Life on Red Tablecloth (1934), which features a mishmash of objects affixed to a red tablecloth. Zigzagging strokes connect cup to mandolin, pipe to bowl of plums, leaving the viewer wondering whether they are lines of action or merely a pattern on the cloth. The “mandolin” is ambiguous; it could pass for the bloated toe of a giant or perhaps a deformed fish. It feels violently happy and energetic, yet is a still life. It is built up and thrives upon contradictions.
After the tour, having neglected the also significant sense of taste, I declined the proceeding tour in French in lieu of the abundant chocolate, cake, cheese and fruit consumed to the tunes of Margot MacDonald and Cavale. The after party played out at Malmaison in Georgetown with DJ sets by Caroline Polachek and LXSX FRXNK from nine pm to two am, a transition from museum proper to all-out dance party.
The night was a celebration of all the senses; BYT and The Phillips need to get together more often.
more from each portion by Blink:
and afterparty by Dakota:
And one Instagram for the road…