Curators

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Curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. introduces the collection of seventeenth-century Dutch paintings at the National Gallery of Art. Filmed in the elegant oak-paneled galleries where the Dutch paintings hang, Wheelock discusses the collection’s history and changing character since the Gallery was founded in 1941.

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Many of the Dutch paintings at the National Gallery of Art have fascinating histories. Curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. recounts how, under the threat of the Third Reich, the Petschek family in Aussig (now the Czech Republic) saved their beautiful landscape by Albert Cuyp from the Nazis.  Wheelock also relates the peaceful, Arcadian quality of Cuyp’s paintings to the political and social ideals of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century.

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Many seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings are small because they were created for domestic settings.  In 1995 the National Gallery of Art unveiled the Dutch and Flemish Cabinet Galleries, a suite of intimately scaled, wood-paneled rooms that emulates the viewing experience one might have had in such an environment. Curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. tours the cabinet galleries, discusses his inspiration for them, and explains why they are especially appropriate for paintings such as Vermeer’s remarkable genre scenes.

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 By examining the stylistic relationships between two paintings in the National Gallery of Art, The Fall of Man by Hendrik Goltzius and Daniel and the Lions’ Den by Peter Paul Rubens, curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. explains how Goltzius drew inspiration from the great Flemish master. In 1612 Rubens traveled from Antwerp to Haarlem to visit Goltzius, and as The Fall of Man (1616) demonstrates, that meeting had a profound impact on Goltzius’ subsequent style.

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Rembrandt van Rijn’s art is marked by his ability to capture the human experience in its joys, its drama, and its vulnerabilities. His many self-portraits are among the most iconic of his works. Curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. explains how Rembrandt, in his Self-Portrait of 1659, depicted himself as a proud and thoughtful individual, worn with age but with an inner dignity gained from the personal difficulties he had experienced in the mid-1650s.

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The dramatic composition and emotional power of Rembrandt’s The Mill has made it one of the most renowned paintings in the Dutch collection at the National Gallery of Art. Curator Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. takes viewers through the fascinating history of this masterpiece, which includes major controversies about its attribution and its appearance.   

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Kim Jones, associate curator of French paintings, and Barbara Berrie, head of scientific research, explain how Titian used oil glazes to tone and deepen color. “Trenta, quaranta velatura” (Thirty, forty glazes), he once boasted. This is an exaggeration, surely, but one that emphasizes the importance of these thin veils of translucent paint applied layer on layer. The effects made possible with these glazes offered the greatest advantage of oil paints over the older tempera paints. This clip is from Making Art: Seeing Color, produced by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

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At the time of their acquisition in 1995, Cornelis Verbeeck's paintings Dutch Warship Attacking a Spanish Galley and Spanish Galleon Firing Its Cannons were covered with layers of discolored varnish. Their sojourn in the conservation lab, however, revealed a complex story that transformed our understanding of these paintings. Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, is joined by Michael Swicklik, senior conservator, and Richard Ford, frame conservator, as they discuss this exciting discovery, and the paintings' new appearance as two halves of a reunited battle scene.

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Brice Marden continues to make some of the most surprising and ravishing paintings of our time. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was known for matte, monochromatic paintings, often with multiple panels. His 1984 visit to an exhibition of Japanese calligraphy triggered a dramatic shift in style that culminated in a masterful series of gestural paintings and drawings entitled Cold Mountain. Since that time, through several further changes in vocabulary, Marden has continued to explore linear networks as the basis for ambitious, allover abstractions. In this video, recorded in October 2009 in the artist's Manhattan studio, Marden discusses his technique, sources of inspiration, and works in progress with Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art.

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Over the course of nearly half a century, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff acquired works by some of the most influential American artists in the postwar era, building a collection that bridges the divide between abstract and figurative painting. More than 40 artists are represented, with special focus on Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella. Harry Cooper, the National Gallery's curator of modern and contemporary art, gives a tour of the exhibition, which includes 126 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. By discussing the works according to themes such as Line, Drip, Gesture, and Concentricity, he presents the collection in new and often unexpected ways. The Meyerhoffs have donated 47 works to the National Gallery of Art since 1987, and their entire collection will eventually be given to the museum.

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Over the course of nearly half a century, Robert and Jane Meyerhoff acquired works by some of the most influential American artists in the postwar era, building a collection that bridges the divide between abstract and figurative painting. More than 40 artists are represented, with special focus on Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella. Harry Cooper, the National Gallery's curator of modern and contemporary art, gives a tour of the exhibition, which includes 126 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture. By discussing the works according to themes such as Line, Drip, Gesture, and Concentricity, he presents the collection in new and often unexpected ways. The Meyerhoffs have donated 47 works to the National Gallery of Art since 1987, and their entire collection will eventually be given to the museum.

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Late 19th–century art is usually identified with airy and colorful impressionist paintings and the radiant atmosphere of Paris. But in the shadowy recesses an art of a very different kind thrived. Prints, drawings, and small sculpture from the period present an alternative vision in depictions of the inner worlds of emotions, anxieties, and fantasies. Mainly stored away rather than openly displayed by their owners, the works in this exhibition appealed to artists and audiences devoted to a private aesthetic experience. Peter Parshall, the Gallery's curator of old master prints, talks about the works in the exhibition and their subtle and complex depictions of human psychology decades before the publication of Sigmund Freud's theories on the unconscious.

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The armor, paintings, and tapestries in the exhibition were made for the Spanish royal family—the nobles, kings, and Holy Roman Emperors who expanded Spain’s influence throughout Europe and the New World. These objects reveal the exquisite work of artists and craftsmen who served the Spanish ruling class from the 15th to the 18th century. In the intricate and finely wrought details on shields, portraits, and tapestries, something quite different is also revealed: an attempt to link the Spanish monarchy with the pieties of the Catholic Church, the power of the ancient Roman empire, and the cultural glories of ancient Greece. David Brown, curator of Italian and Spanish paintings at the National Gallery of Art, describes this subtle advertising campaign waged by the Spanish throne to advance its goals and reputation.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This segment explores the power of the National Gallery's painting A Lady Writing. It examines Vermeer's painting techniques and his use of color.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This segment uses computer technology to illustrate how Vermeer applied the optical principle of the camera obscura while painting Girl with the Red Hat.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This segment examines the National Gallery's painting Girl with the Red Hat. It explains Vermeer's mastery of color and explores the minute details of the painting with magnification of, in some instances, more than 300 percent.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This segment uses computer technology to deconstruct The Music Lesson and demonstrate to the viewer how Vermeer has painstakingly placed every object in the painting to achieve his desired result.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This segment analyzes the National Gallery of Art's painting Woman Holding a Balance. With the help of special effects we are able to understand Vermeer's construction of the painting and his complete control of the work.

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The National Gallery of Art has released a new video podcast about the artist and his work and influence. In the podcast, which features more than 50 of Hopper's paintings and watercolors, Senior Curator Franklin Kelly discusses New York City, New England, and the cinema as Hopper saw and portrayed them—and as we view them today through his work. The filming of the pod cast was made possible by Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. Music composed and performed by Scott Silbert of the US Navy Band. Music engineered by David Morse of the US Navy Band.

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Vermeer: Master of Light is a visual pilgrimage in search of what makes a Vermeer a Vermeer. It is a journey of discovery, guiding the viewer through an examination of three of Johannes Vermeer's paintings and exploring the "secrets" of his technique. Utilizing the potential of x-ray analysis and infrared reflectography as well as the power of computer technology, the program delves beneath the surface of the paintings to unveil fascinating insights into Vermeer's work. This film celebrates one of the most extraordinary painters in the history of art. Narrated by Meryl Streep, with commentary by Arthur Wheelock, curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art, and David Bull, conservator. This compilation video combines all 5 parts of the Vermeer: Master of Light video podcast series.