Laughlin Phillips

Laughlin Phillips, 85, who left the CIA in 1964 to launch Washingtonian magazine and then spent decades helping to revive his family's venerable contemporary art museum, the Phillips Collection, died Jan. 24 at his home in Washington, Conn. He had complications from prostate cancer.

Known as "Loc," Mr. Phillips was in his 40s before he took on a leadership role at the museum. He had served in Army intelligence during World War II and spent his early career with the CIA, including stints in Saigon and Tehran, before starting Washingtonian with a friend from the clandestine agency. He sold the publication in 1979 to devote himself to the museum, which he called "a family responsibility" that had deteriorated markedly.

He came to the job with no particular qualifications other than his blood ties to the founders. He dabbled in art as a young man but said he lacked talent and passion to make a career of it. He bluntly called himself "weak on art history" and said he "did not have the collector's instinct."
But by many published accounts, Mr. Phillips's administrative skill helped guide what had been a deteriorating jewel box of a museum, housed in the family's red brick mansion at 1600 21st St. NW, into a far more financially stable position.

The museum's current director, Dorothy Kosinski, said Mr. Phillips had "figured out a new trajectory for the museum," spending years repositioning the public perception of the collection from "private, cozy, secure" into a museum that could attract and retain much-needed public and private financial support.

The Phillips Collection, which opened to the public in 1921, is widely considered the first American museum devoted to modern art. Although much smaller and less comprehensive than the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Phillips Collection developed a formidable reputation for the high quality of its 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings.

Mr. Phillips's father, Duncan, was the heir to the Jones and Laughlin steel fortune and became one of his generation's foremost arts patrons. He established himself as a force in collecting when he paid $125,000 for Pierre-Auguste Renoir's impressionist masterpiece "Luncheon of the Boating Party" while touring Europe. At his death in 1966, he had amassed thousands of works by famous and struggling artists including Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Degas, Klee and Rothko.

His father left a $3 million endowment, which Laughlin Phillips called a "princely" sum at the time but which inflation and other costs had made insufficient to maintain the facility.
As museum director from 1979 to 1991, Mr. Phillips said he sought to transform the Phillips Collection from "an idiosyncratic, underfunded family-run museum with a superb collection of modern art into a full-fledged professional institution."

Mr. Phillips, who served as board chairman from 1966 to 2001, supervised multi-million-dollar fundraising campaigns, starting charging admission, established corporate and personal membership programs, and sought arts endowment grants that the museum had seldom if ever pursued.

The museum professionalized its staff, at one point hiring the renowned art historian Sir Lawrence Gowing as chairman of the curatorial department. In 1989, the museum opened its $7.8 million Goh exhibition and storage space annex -- named after the Japanese industrial and his wife who were the project's leading donors.

Moreover, Mr. Phillips took steps to end the museum's casual approach to art cataloguing and conservation, having been appalled many years previously to find some pieces of art being stored in restrooms and closets. He made sure proper humidity control was installed, one of many crucial steps need to maintain art treasures in a building that dated to 1898.

The big job I faced was to gradually upgrade everything without changing the spirit of the place," Mr. Phillips told Washingtonian in 1999. "We had to take a lovable old house and create what we think of as a full-fledged professional museum."

Laughlin Phillips was born in Washington on Oct. 20, 1924. He was 6 when the family moved from its downtown manse to an 18-acre estate on Foxhall Road Northwest designed by celebrated architect John Russell Pope. The Phillipses' Foxhall home became a noted salon where the family entertained diplomats, politicians, opinion makers and artists.
At the same time, Laughlin Phillips described a protective upbringing.

His only sibling, Mary Marjorie, spent much of her life in institutions after having contracted encephalitis as a toddler. "She was severely brain damaged and never got beyond being four years old," he told Washingtonian. "Mother spent endless hours with her, believing she would get well."

Mr. Phillips was chauffeured each day from home to the private St. Albans School. After graduation in 1942, he attended Yale University for a year before serving in the Pacific during World War II and earning the Bronze Star Medal. He chose not to return to Yale, his father's alma mater, and instead enrolled at the University of Chicago on the GI Bill. He joined the CIA soon after obtaining a master's degree in philosophy.

During this period, he married Elizabeth Hood, and they had two children before divorcing. Mr. Phillips later married Jennifer Stats Cafritz, the former wife of Conrad Cafritz of the Washington real-estate family. The Phillipses moved a few years ago to Connecticut from the District.
Besides his wife, survivors include two children from his first marriage, Duncan V. Phillips of San Francisco and Liza Phillips of Narrowsburg, N.Y.; four stepchildren, Julia Cafritz and Daisy von Furth, both of Northampton, Mass., Eric Cafritz of Paris and Matthew Cafritz of the District; and 15 grandchildren.

Under Laughlin Phillips's oversight, the museum expanded its library and archives and made several key purchases for its collection, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Jackson Pollock and Morris Louis.

At times, Mr. Phillips was forced to make difficult decisions about selling a prized work of art to keep the museum functioning. Washington Post art critic Paul Richard wrote witheringly of Mr. Phillips's decision to place Georges Braque's cubist painting "Music" (1914) up for auction in 1987. The work fetched $3 million.

Mr. Phillips answered that his father had often been willing to sell works of art to sustain the larger museum. "The museum's character has always had an innovative element," he once said. "It can't be sealed and preserved."

Stephen Huneck

Stephen Huneck (October 8, 1948 – January 7, 2010), was an American wood carving artist, furniture maker, painter, and author. Most of his artwork is composed of carvings of dogs. In addition to carvings, Huneck also wrote several children's books, the main character of which was his black Labrador Retriever, Sally. Huneck was originally from Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Before becoming an artist, Huneck was an antiques dealer.[3] He was discovered in 1984 when he found a man pulling one of his carvings, an angel, out of the back of Huneck's pick-up truck. The man asked how much he wanted for the angel. Not intending to sell it and believing that the man wouldn't pay such a high price, Huneck told him that he wanted $1,000. The man revealed himself to be an art dealer from Manhattan and paid Huneck the money.
Pieces of Huneck's artwork are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Dog Museum of America and the American Kennel Club. Huneck received commissions for works from celebrities and politicians, including Sandra Bernhard, Dr. Phil McGraw, and US Senator Patrick Leahy. Much of the basswood, cherry, maple and pine he worked with came from his farm.
In 1997, after a near death experience with acute respiratory distress syndrome, Huneck started work building a chapel dedicated to dogs. The Dog Chapel, which took three years to complete, is situated next to his studio in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. In addition to standard human sized doors, the chapel also has a dog door, carved wooden dogs lining the pews and dog themed stained glass windows. The inner walls are covered with remembrance notes and pictures of visitors' deceased canine pets.
Each year, Huneck and his wife held a gathering known as Dog Fest at his Dog Mountain studio. People brought their dogs for a day of relaxation. Contests were held for categories such as loudest bark, biggest/smallest dog, best dog kiss, etc. The dogs were let off their leashes and allowed to run free and play with other dogs.
Huneck was despondent over having to lay off employees in January 2010 and had been dealing with depression. On January 7, 2010, after driving to a psychiatrist's office in Littleton, New Hampshire, Huneck shot himself and died. He was 60 years old.

Director Otto Preminger's NY Townhouse 1968

The Future

Color Field painting

Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. It was inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism, while many of its notable early proponents were among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists. Color Field painting is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color spread across or stained into the canvas; creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. The movement places less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favour of an overall consistency of form and process.
During the late 1950s and 1960s, Color field painters emerged in Great Britain, Canada, Washington, DC. and the West Coast of the United States using formats of stripes, targets, simple geometric patterns and references to landscape imagery and to nature.
Color Field painting is related to Post-painterly abstraction, Suprematism, Abstract Expressionism, Hard-edge painting and Lyrical Abstraction. It initially referred to a particular type of abstract expressionism, especially the work of Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb and several series of paintings by Joan Miró. Art critic Clement Greenberg perceived Color Field painting as related to but different from Action painting.

An important distinction that made color field painting different from abstract expression was the paint handling. The most basic fundamental defining technique of painting is application of paint and the color field painters revolutionized the way paint could be effectively applied.
Color Field painting sought to rid art of superfluous rhetoric. Artists like Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Adolph Gottlieb, Morris Louis, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, Friedel Dzubas, and Frank Stella, and others often used greatly reduced formats, with drawing essentially simplified to repetitive and regulated systems, basic references to nature, and a highly articulated and psychological use of color. In general these artists eliminated overt recognizable imagery in favor of abstraction. Certain artists quoted references to past or present art, but in general color field painting presents abstraction as an end in itself. In pursuing this direction of modern art, these artists wanted to present each painting as one unified, cohesive, monolithic image often within series' of related types.

In distinction to the emotional energy and gestural surface marks and paint handling of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, Color Field painting initially appeared to be cool and austere. Color field painters efface the individual mark in favor of large, flat, stained and soaked areas of color, considered to be the essential nature of visual abstraction along with the actual shape of the canvas, which Frank Stella in particular achieved in unusual ways with combinations of curved and straight edges. However, Color Field painting has proven to be both sensual and deeply expressive albeit in a different way from gestural Abstract expressionism. Denying connection to Abstract Expressionism or any other Art Movement Mark Rothko spoke clearly about his paintings in 1956:
I am not an abstractionist ... I am not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. ... I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on — and the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures show that I communicate those basic human emotions. ... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point"

Kenneth Noland

Kenneth Noland (April 10, 1924 – January 5, 2010 was an American abstract painter. He was one of the best-known American Color field painters, although in the 1950s he was thought of as an abstract expressionist and in the early 1960s he was thought of as a minimalist painter. Noland helped establish the Washington Color School movement. In 1977 he was honored by a major retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in New York that then traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. and the Toledo Museum of Art, in Ohio in 1978. In 2006 Noland's Stripe Paintings were exhibited at the Tate in London