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The Phillips celebrates gift of exquisite French drawings by Modern masters with focused exhibition
Edouard Vuillard, Lucy Hessel Seated in an Armchair, c. 1912. Pencil on paper, 5 1/2 x 4 3/8 in. Promised gifts to The Phillips Collection from Jonathan and Roseann Aaronsohn © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Phillips Collection highlights a gift of 27 works on paper by modern masters active in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It marks the first drawing by Edouard Vuillard (1868–1940) to enter the collection and the Phillips’s first holdings by Bernard Lamotte (1903–1983), Fernand Léger (1881–1955), and Kees van Dongen (1877–1968). The rich array of portraits, nudes, landscapes, and cityscapes offers a glimpse into the essential role drawing played in the modern artist’s creative process. French Drawings from the Aaronsohn Collection is on view Feb. 2 through April 29, 2012.

The gift from the D.C.-based collectors Jonathan and Roseann Aaronsohn enriches The Phillips Collection’s important holdings of work by Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Stuart Davis (1892–1964), and André Derain (1880–1954). “The Phillips is grateful to the Aaronsohns for this gift of drawings that strengthens our commitment to the graphic arts,” says museum Director Dorothy Kosinski. “It underscores the important synthesis between drawing and painting that invigorated modernist practice.”

Artists of the Parisian avant-garde embraced the expressive potential of line, charting a course for modern art with the medium. The exhibition features 25 drawings by Bonnard, Vuillard, Dutch-born painter van Dongen, French masters Derain and Lamotte, and renowned cubist Léger, along with two lithographs by American modernist Davis based on his drawings of Paris. Whether rapid sketch or well worked study, each drawing reveals a fresh and personal vision, from Derain’s classical line to Léger’s abstract geometry.

French Drawings complements the Phillips’s major international exhibition Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard, on view Feb. 4 through May 6, 2012. Post-impressionist masters Bonnard and Vuillard wielded the Kodak handheld camera much as they did sketchpad, charcoal, pencil, and ink to capture spontaneous impressions of modern life.

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