Unlike the pictorialist, almost old-fashioned work exhibited earlier this year in “Picturing Progress: Hungarian Women Photographers, 1900–1945” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the contemporaneous work of Eastern European men in the Phillips Collection’s “Object as Subject: Photographs of the Czech Avant-Garde” does really seem ahead of its time. From the flat, proto-abstract-expressionist arrangements of Jaroslav Rossler to the shiny, industrial-product abstractions of Jaromir Funke and Arnos Pikart, the visual and conceptual boldness of these images rises above the warm-toned, less-than-sharp printing techniques available to photographers of that era. Of special note are two compositions by Frantisek Drtikol that pair a shapely nude with angular shapes—a not-so-subtle allusion, presumably, to that most celebrated of avant-garde works, Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW TUESDAY to SATURDAY 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AND SUNDAY 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M. TO FEB. 7 AT THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION, 1600 21ST ST. NW. WEEKDAYS FREE; weekends $10-12. (202) 387-2436.