Matt Phillips

 


   

Matt Phillips (1927-2017) was born in New York City. He initially pursued a career as a poet and, in 1952, earned an M.A. in literature from the University of Chicago. At the same time, he was studying art at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. Not content with the collections of modern art in the U.S., Phillips traveled throughout Europe and studied painting in the museums and studios there. He taught in Paris then returned to the U.S. in 1964 to teach at Bard College in New York. After retiring from Bard in 1987, he devoted his time to exhibitions, travel and guest lectures. Matt Phillips passed away in Oakland, Ca in March, 2017.

Phillips is widely recognized as a master of the monotype and monotype/collage. Phillips’ reputation as an important 20th century artist is based on his revival of the monotype technique in America, previously explored by 19th century artists Degas, Gauguin, and Prendergast. Phillips merges figural and abstract traditions in his works. With their strong sense of rhythm, shape and color, his monotypes and etchings are pleasing on a purely visual level. The images of nudes and landscapes are a perfect complement to this technique because they add an even greater sense of luxuriant voluptuousness.


Selected Museum Collections:

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore, MD
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
National Gallery, Rosenwald Collection, Washington, DC
New York Public Library, New York, NY
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Public Library, Philadelphia, PA
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, CA
Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, OH
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY


What is a Monotype?

Essentially, a monotype is a drawing made on a metal plate that is then transferred to paper by pressing the two together. Because the plate is not permanently marked, and most of the ink is transferred to the paper, only one true impression can be made. In contrast to painting directly on a canvas, there is always a strong element of chance in any successfully printed monotype. This element of chance is exactly what attracts Phillips, an amateur magician, to the medium.


Phillips and the Monotype
Phillips’ reputation as an important 20th century artist is based on his revival of the monotype technique, previously explored by 19th century artists Degas, Gauguin, and Prendergast. In 1967, Phillips brought long-overdue attention to this powerful body of work by coordinating a Prendergast exhibit at Bard College. Since then, Phillips has continued to organize monotype exhibitions and has contributed to the monotype tradition himself with his own strong work in the medium.


Monotypes and Collage
Recently, Phillips has begun to combine the techniques of collage and monotype. Instead of using plain white paper for printing, Phillips creates a collage of colored papers. The collage then serves as a lively, rhythmic base for the transfer of the bright inks. This improvised technique creates a multi-layered, dynamically textured image.


Rhythm, Shape and Color

Phillips also merges figural and abstract traditions in his works. With their strong sense of rhythm, shape and color, his monotypes and etchings are pleasing on a purely visual level. The images of nudes and landscapes are a perfect complement to this technique because they add an even greater sense of luxuriant voluptuousness.


Collections
Matt Phillips’ work is included in the following collections:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Whitney Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art
Art Institute of Chicago