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Doig’s Ravens, Meet Braque’s Bird

April 1, 2011

Peter Doig's Corbeaux series (2011) hangs in conversation with Georges Braque's Bird (1956), a work in the permanent collection (Photo by Claire Norman)

It was imperative to our founder, Duncan Phillips, to engage with living artists. He felt that “artists speak not only for themselves but for those of us who are intensely interested in other ways of seeing than our own.” Maintaining our connections to living artists has become an intrinsic part of the museum’s philosophy and mission.

It’s in this vein that we asked the artist Peter Doig to, in addition to delivering the spring 2011 Duncan Phillips Lecture, create a painting or a series that responds to a work in the permanent collection.

Georges Braque. Bird, 1956. Oil on canvas; 18 x 19 1/2 in.

Peter chose a work by the French painter Georges Braque, Bird (1956) – a painting whose image of a dove has become an iconic symbol for this institution – as his inspiration for the Corbeaux series.

It was particularly satisfying to watch Peter’s reaction to the Braque painting for the first time in person. While working with our staff in the gallery on his installation he kept returning to the Braque work, fixated on the figure of the dove suspended in air. It was evident Peter hoped to capture this feeling of stilled movement in his raven series, and the experience of the works in conversation is certainly kinetic: you feel as if Doig’s ravens take flight with Braque’s dove, transcending the gallery walls to transport you to a place in nature.

Visitors observing two works in Peter Doig's Corbeaux series (Photo by James Brantley)

After his lecture, Peter enjoyed the opportunity to speak with students and young artists (Photo by James Brantley)

To learn more about Peter Doig’s work, visit the Michael Werner Gallery and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. For behind-the-scenes photos of his installation in progress at the Phillips, check out this Flickr set.

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