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The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works

Themes and Quotes

"For about a year now, I have been unable to [do] anything in my painting but scrape off, pile on and then remove again. In this process I don’t actually reveal what was beneath." —Gerhard Richter, 1992

"The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end." —Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles," 1841

"The viewer is persuaded by his senses that he occupies the center of the world around him—a world he changes at will as he moves through it." —Rudolf Arnheim, art theorist, The Power of the Center, 1988

"A line on its own has almost become a work of art." —Theo van Doesburg, artist and critic

"Lines connect or divide, measure, mark, or merely extend themselves. In their more unruly moments they coil and bend, even snarl and knot. They can also scribble or write." —Nancy Foote, art critic, "Drawing the Line," 1976

"Since the painter has become an actor, the spectator…must become a connoisseur of the gradations between the automatic, the spontaneous, the evoked." —Harold Rosenberg, art critic, "The American Action Painters," 1952

Art on Art:
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." —T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 1920

"Whatever else art is good for, its chief effectiveness lies in propagating more art." —Leo Steinberg, art historian, "The Glorious Company," 1978

"If Picasso drips, I drip." —Arshile Gorky, 1934

"You can’t do a painting without a drip." —Andy Warhol, 1961

Stripe to Zip:
"Music establishes an order between man and time. The stripe establishes an order between man and space." —Michel Pastoureau, historian, The Devil’s Cloth, 1991

"I feel that my zip does not divide my paintings. I feel it does the exact opposite." —Barnett Newman, 1970

Figure or Ground:
"You can never have the use of the inside of a cup without the outside—the inside and outside go together. They’re one." —Alan Watts, philosopher, c. 1970

"Actually all is space, form as well as what we see as empty space." —Piet Mondrian, "Toward the True Vision of Reality," 1941

"It is gray we need . . . made of bright and black, able to shed the former, or the latter, and be the latter or the former alone." —Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, 1953

Picture the Frame:
"Art is limitation. The essence of every picture is the frame." —G. K. Chesterton, cultural critic, Orthodoxy, 1908

"The rectangle is a great human invention." —Brice Marden, 1978

General Information

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Exhibition Press Release

Checklist (PDF 1 MB)

I think I see…
by Harry Cooper (PDF, 9 MB)

Themes and Quotes

Related Activities

Harry Cooper
Curator and Head of Modern Art
National Gallery of Art, Washington