Esther Phillips Double-Sided Watercolor Painting, Mid 20th Century
Esther Phillips (Pennsylvania/New York, 1902-1983)
Untitled, mid 20th century
Double-sided watercolor painting on paper
Signed to the lower right of each side
Esther Phillips left Pittsburgh in the late 1930s to pursue a bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village. A member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, she immersed herself into local artistic circles, and among her artist friends were modernists Milton Weiss (American, 1912 – 1995) and Franz Kline (American, 1910 – 1962). Phillips’ work was often executed in watercolors at a quick pace, exhibiting the influence of Fauvism, Cubism, and artists such as Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Frequent subjects include abstracted cityscapes, townscapes, and asylum scenes that feature vibrant colors, simple shapes, and overall flatness. Her work has been exhibited posthumously at multiple galleries such as the Carson Street Gallery, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Borelli-Edwards Gallery, among others.
For 6 1/2 years, the artist lived in an asylum located in upstate New York. This work is one of many scenes that she painted of her fellow asylum inmates partaking in various activities at the institution. In addition to the women depicted here gathering in various states of dress, other works of hers feature dancing and games, women bowling in the asylum bowling alley and playing basketball in the asylum gymnasium. Similar watercolor paintings by Phillips are featured in Lisa A. Miles’ biography of the artist titled This Fantastic Struggle: the life and art of Esther Phillips, published in 2002.
- wear to edges of paper; toning to paper; slight creasing to corners of paper; minor foxing to paper; graphite present under watercolor.