These are “predominantly White Paintings” out of necessity: In the early 1950s, a young Richard Pousette-Dart ran out of money for materials and had to make do. These 25 rarely exhibited paintings and works on paper, the product of his thrift, certainly illustrate the “mother of all invention” saying. Pousette-Dart’s graphite and oil paintings, deeply cerebral, are a notable departure from his typically colorful, layered work. Within complex geometries formed by pencil lines, he depicts subjects as earthly as a web or as heavenly as the entire cosmos. In between are The Quiet Lovers, a sweet portrait that emerges from a veined surface, and Head of a Poet, which could pay tribute to the artist’s mother or his wife. Calling these pieces predominantly anything is deceptively simplistic; in each, Pousette-Dart creates and reorders chaos. Not bad for an act of thrift.

THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, 10 A.M. TO 8:30 P.M. THURSDAY AND 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M. SUNDAY TO SEPT. 12 AT THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION, 1600 21ST ST. NW. $10-$12. (202) 387-2151.

More from WCP