Paint the Town: The Phillips’ Female Forces

by Editorial

In recognition of its Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction exhibition, The Phillips Collection is honored six women for their leadership in advancing the arts.  Read about them here along with the museum’s director, Dorothy Kosinski.

Mera Rubell

Mera Rubell


EDUCATION: Born in Russia to Polish parents who fled during World War II, Rubell came to New York with her family when she was 12 years old. Arriving penniless and without a word of English, she went on to receive her B.A. in psychology from Brooklyn College and an M.A. in education from Long Island University. Both degrees were a first for anyone in her family.

A LIFE’S WORK: Rubell has spent a lifetime championing young artists and undiscovered neighborhoods, combining these two passions as she has helped to bring galleries, nonprofits, and cultural institutions to SoHo,Washington, D.C., and most notably, Miami, where she launched a private/public contemporary art museum, was a pioneer of historic redevelopment of South Beach, and played a pivotal role in bringing Art Basel, the world’s premier art fair, to Miami Beach.

TOP OF THE CHARTS: Rubell, along with her husband Don, is consistently named among the world’s top 200 contemporary art collectors by ARTnews.

Dorothy Kosinski

Dorothy Kosinski


CURRENT ROLE: Kosinski became director of The Phillips Collection in April 2008.

EDUCATION: She received her Ph.D. and M.A.from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and her B.A. from Yale University.

PUBLISHED WORK: Kosinski has published a wide array of work on Joseph Cornell, Gustave Courbet, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Robert Rauschenberg, Vincent van Gogh, and on topics ranging from 19th century Symbolism to Dada and Surrealism and contemporary art.

PAST WORK: Prior to The Phillips Collection, she worked at the Dallas Museum of Art, where she served in a number of capacities for over 12 years, last as senior curator of painting and sculpture. She worked for over a decade in Basel, Switzerland, with the Douglas Cooper Collection of cubist art, and as a curator of exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Kunstmuseum Basel, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and the National Gallery in Prague.

Jo Carole Lauder

Jo Carole Lauder


THE NEW YORK ART WORLD: Lauder has worked extensively with the Museum of Modern Art in NewYork, where she served as president of the International Council for 10 years. She is a member of the Contemporary Arts Council and the Chairman’s Council.

ART IN EMBASSIES: Lauder is chairman of the board of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, which assists the U.S. Department of State in various programs designed to exhibit and preserve fine and decorative art in U.S. embassies.

WORK IN FILM: With the Checkerboard Foundation, a non-profit film and production company dedicated to the American arts, Lauder was an associate producer of a documentary on the history of The Phillips Collection, and producer of Ellsworth Kelly: Fragments and Sol LeWitt:Wall Drawings.

WORK ABROAD: As the wife of a U.S. ambassador to Austria, Lauder promoted American cultural interests. She became active in the Vienna Secession, a building that her husband helped restore. She furnished a wing in the embassy residence with American folk art and, upon leaving Vienna, donated the furnishings to the State Department.

Heather Podesta

Heather Podesta


CURRENT ROLE: Legislative and public policy strategist.

AREA OF INTEREST: Contemporary art.

A COUPLE OF COLLECTORS: She and her husband,Tony, have built a collection that is internationally regarded for its ambitious scope, particularly in photography and video. The Podestas have formed relationships with many of the emerging artists whose work they collect, oftentimes following and supporting the artists throughout their careers.They are generous donors to museums, frequently providing in-depth representations of individual artists’ works to create meaningful “core” collections.

WOMEN IN THE ARTS: Podesta is a Trustee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and serves on the Advisory Board of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, among other board service.

AN EYE FOR MODERNISM: The Podestas have an extensive collection of major works by noted international artists including Louise Bourgeois, Olafur Eliasson, Sam Taylor-Wood, Candida Hofer, Marina Abramovic, Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muñiz, Wolfgang Tillmans, Janaina Tschape, and Michal Rovner.

Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee


CURRENT ROLE: Rhee is chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, a district serving 45,000 students in 123 schools.

CHANGES IN THE DISTRICT: She has helped to overhaul school budgets and reviewed afterschool programs to prioritize the study of art and music in the D.C. Public School system. This focus on the arts also includes this year’s launch of four Catalyst arts integration schools and plans for a new city- wide arts magnet school.

SERVING OUR CITY: Rhee serves on the advisory boards for the National Council on Teacher Quality, the National Center for Alternative Certification, and Project REACH of the University of Phoenix’s School of Education. She is an ex-officio member of the Kennedy Center board of trustees.

Vicki Sant

Vicki Sant


CURRENT ROLE: A Washington philanthropist, Sant is president of The Summit Foundation and The Summit Fund of Washington, which she co-founded with her husband, Roger, in 1982.

A LOCAL FOCUS: Sant is president of the National Gallery of Art, honorary chair of The Phillips Collection, and a board member of the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. In addition, she is a member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art and of ArtTable.

EDUCATION: Sant developed her interest in art at Stanford University, where she took art history courses and earned her B.A. in History and Literature.

ARTS PASSION: Vicki and Roger Sant collect art with a focus on the Nabis, including such painters as Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, and Maurice Denis.

Jill Cooper Udall

Jill Cooper Udall


CURRENTLY: Udall was recently appointed by President Obama to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

ARTS ADVOCATE: She is known throughout New Mexico as a strong advocate for the arts and has served on the boards of numerous arts and educational nonprofit organizations. In Washington, she has, in addition to her consulting practice, maintained her commitment to the arts by serving on the boards of Ford’s Theatre, the Washington National Opera, and Meridian International.

NATIVE ARTISTS WORK: In Washington, she has been a consultant on museum issues for the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution to develop exhibits, programs and initiatives at the National Museum of the American Indian. One of her special projects at the Indian Museum, in conjunction with the State Department’s Arts in Embassies Program, was the commissioning of work by Native American artists to hang in diplomatic residences around the world.

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