Reception for the Phillips Collection’s international forum weekend in Washington & Xavier Veilhan exhibition opening
Residence of France, November 2, 2012
Dear George and Trish Vrandenburg,
Dear Dorothy Kosinski, Thomas Krahenbul,
Cher Xavier Veilhan,
Dear Members of the Board of Trustees of the Phillips Collection,
Thank you for being with us this evening. First our thoughts and prayers must go to the victims and the families of hurricane Sandy that has devastated New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in particular.
This is very personal for Sophie and me since we spent so many years in New York and deeply feel their suffering. The resilience and the solidarity of the American people will allow them to get through this and be even stronger.
It’s a great pleasure for my wife Sophie and for me to welcome you to our Residence this evening for The Phillips Collection’s International Forum Weekend and the opening of the Xavier Veilhan exhibition.
Sophie and I are great fans of the Phillips Collection – and have always been – and it’s a privilege to welcome each and everyone of you.
I would also like to welcome two colleagues and friends, Ambassador Stefansson from Iceland and Ambassador Bekink from the Netherlands. I want to make a special thanks to the lovely Mary-Ann Huntsman who graced us with her exquisite piano performance.
As you know, France and The Phillips Collection have a very special relationship. They have shared an important bond since the Collection opened its doors over 90 years ago.
The permanent collection of The Phillips includes almost 400 works of art by France’s most famous modern and contemporary artists. This is a tribute to the artistic heritage of my country, and for that we are both grateful and honored.
And today this relationship between The Phillips Collection and France continues to grow stronger every year. I am glad to introduce you Catherine Albertini, the new head of the Maison française. Catherine is very dynamic and committed, she is already very successful (and I warmly recommend her to all of you).
There are many examples of collaborations between The Phillips Collection and The French Embassy. One of them is “The Leading New Composers of Europe Series”, through which we brought to Washington music from some of Europe’s most outstanding contemporary composers.
These composers hand picked the musicians they wanted to have perform their works, some of which had only recently been written – so this was truly “new music”!
This intersection of the visual and the performing arts embraces the full range of expression – it is something that you at The Phillips understand, encourage, and promote, and I believe it is a gift to this nation and to the world.
In the same vein, we are particularly proud to partner with you for The Phillips Collection’s International Forum Weekend in Washington.
It is precisely in this kind of gathering – in this kind of “laboratory of ideas,” if you will – that the vision and importance of modern and contemporary art can not only be understood, but can be renewed to engage new friends and partners.
A highlight of this year’s Forum is an intimate conversation with artist Xavier Veilhan, whose sculpture, painting, and photography have positioned him among the world’s leading living artists.
As a fellow Frenchman, I say this with a hint of modesty, of course… but a quick survey of his exhibitions and public installations tells you that this is no exaggeration.
And, not content with restricting himself to the visual arts, Xavier Veilhan has also worked in music and film. Truly, he is a modern, multi-medium artist…
His (IN)balance exhibition – which opens tomorrow at The Phillips – is the first major presentation of his work in the United States.
We are very grateful to the Phillips Collection as well as to the Institut Français, which also supported this exhibition.
So I am very pround to welcome Xavier Veilhan tonight, and I am also pleased to host a private dinner at our Cultural Center, La Maison Française for him and the Forum participants during the weekend.
Here I would like to say how lucky we are to partner with Dorothy Kosinski.
Dear Dorothy, your direction of The Phillips Collection speaks so clearly to the role of the modern museum director. Your innovative approach to thinking about art and culture is really an example, and we thank you for your invigorating vision, and your inspired leadership.
I also want to thank George Vrandenburg for the exemplary way he has guided the Board of Trustees of The Phillips Collection. We wish there were many, many more patrons of the arts such as yourself!
May I also recognize Vesela Sretenovic, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, who worked on this exhibit for at least two years. Your dedication has been rewarded with an amazing installation. Bravo de tout Coeur!
So my warmest thanks again to all of you for your support to the Phillips Collection, and I wish you a great evening and a wonderful weekend./.