Now is your chance to catch six different summer exhibits that cater to almost every taste in art – a great way to reacquaint yourself with D.C. galleries or explore them for the first time. But these shows won’t last forever. Exhibits at the Hirshhorn Museum, Phillips Collection, Corcoran Museum of Art and National Gallery of Art will remain on display for only a few more weeks, ending mid-September.
The Phillips Collection – 1600 21st St. N.W.
The past few months have brought several photography exhibits to the D.C. area. The Phillips Collection is proud to host two of them. “August Sander: Photographs of the German Landscape” is a show that provides a different view from a photographer best known for his pictures of fellow German citizens. However, the 30-work collection contains none of the controversial photos that caused the Nazis to take Sander’s printing presses in the past. Instead, it showcases panoramic views of mountains and countryside, as well as intimate portraits of trees.
The Phillips’ other photography exhibit is that of Aaron Siskind, whose style is the complete antithesis to that of Sander. “Aaron Siskind: New Relationships in Photography” features abstract photos that span nearly 50 years of the artist’s career. The photos are interspersed with abstract works from the museum’s permanent collection by artists such as Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Both exhibits remain at the museum until September 5.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art – 17th Street and New York Avenue N.W.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s summer offerings are both patriotic and morbid. Photographer Sally Mann’s exhibition “What Remains” is a shocking exploration of mortality and life that gravitates toward such graphic images as cadaver studies detailing the process of human decomposition. The black and white photographs are made through the wet-collodion process of early photography, which gives the photos a beautifully surreal, weathered look. Despite the subject matter, Mann concludes the exhibit on an upbeat note with photos of her living children. The exhibit will remain at the Corcoran until September 6.
Also at the Corcoran are the most famous paintings of Americana’s most renowned painter. “Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms: Paintings that Inspired a Nation” include famous works based on the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 inauguration speech. The iconic “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom from Want,” “Freedom of Worship,” and “Freedom from Fear” inspired people to buy bonds to support the war effort during World War II. The paintings are on display until September 6 – just long enough to rally enthusiasm for the upcoming election.
The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden – Between 4th and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue N.W.
Meanwhile, the West Building of the National Gallery of Art features an environmental painter in the show “Hudson River School Visions: The Landscapes of Sanford R. Gifford.” The Hudson River School, an artistic response to literature’s transcendentalist movement, features sweeping nature scenes popularized by painter Thomas Cole, who also inspired Gifford’s work. With more than 70 paintings, this show depicts everything from dramatic views of the artist’s world travels to tranquil scenes from his hometown in the middle of the Hudson River Valley. Although the exhibit was organized in conjunction with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where it premiered), the National Gallery unveils three paintings exclusive to its location. “Hudson River School Visions” will remain at the National Gallery until September 26.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution Independence Avenue and 7th Street S.W.
The Hirshhorn Museum’s summer spotlight is part of their ongoing “Directions” series, featuring international contemporary artists. “Gabriel Orozco: Extension of a Reflection,” is a collection of 55 works by the Mexican-born photographer that reveal the beauty in everyday, familiar objects. Orozco’s color photos thrive on spontaneous situations, including objects he calls “self-arranged.” He has an eye for delicate compositions, both natural and urban. The photos are collected from his travels throughout the world and have inspired his other video and sculpture projects. The exhibit will be at the Hirshhorn until September 6.