(Links to each painting in the collection are after the introduction.)
How often I have looked at these paintings while thinking about something else, or glanced at them in passing.
I have looked at them during arguments, when bored with people or with life, in happiness, misery, and while waiting for the water to boil. I started to think about how different living with a painting is than visiting one in a museum (or gallery) and how pleasurable.
A picture is nowadays ‘presented’ in the midst of furniture, ornaments, hangings of the same period, stale settings… the masterpiece we contemplate while we dine does not give us that exhilarating delight which we can expect from it only in a public gallery, which symbolizes far better, by its bareness and by the absence of all irritating detail, those innermost spaces into which the artist withdrew to create it.
--Within a Budding Grove
(And Proust wasn’t even around to see the advent of the white boxes. However, he did make a collection of his own in The Remembrance of Things Past by describing and referring to more than 200 paintings: Paintings and Proust, Eric Kaplan.)
As I see it, the paintings I own are not individual works; they are a part of each artist’s whole body of work. So of all of that—as well as every association I have with each piece—is what I am referring to in writing about “my” collection.
Another inspiration for writing “My Collection” was James Panero talking about Red Rock Falls by Milton Avery:
Avery’s waterfall flowed through my childhood with the drip of a bathroom faucet....I never grew tired of it. Red Rock Falls seemed simple, but it refused to give up its secrets.
The shapes tease at one another. The river shoots up. It widens at one corner to form a body that thins into a neck. This neck leads to a head—the waterfall. The waterfall has a mouth, wide open and yelling. It shouts over the noise of the falls. Or maybe it makes the sound of the falls.
That might be Wednesday. On Thursday, that head becomes a hand. On Friday, a monster. On Saturday, the river becomes sky as seen though the beak of Toucan Sam. On Sunday it is a waterfall flowing over red rocks. These were some conscious impressions. The corners of my eyes had their own thoughts on the matter.
--The New Criterion, May 2004
Very little money went into amassing these works; they were mostly gifts and trades, and one or two were just never picked up from shows I curated at The 'temporary Museum. I thank the artists and hope they will forgive me if I go further afield in my thoughts about them than was their intention. Equally unremunerated were my partner, Su Friedrich, for editing, and for designing and building this site, and Barbara Epler, president of New Directions Publishing, for further editorial fine-tuning; I am very grateful to both of them.
And so, without further ado, My Collection.
—Cathy Nan Quinlan, November 2011
(Please forgive the few that flash when you roll over the image, we're in the process of fixing that, but you can still link to the artists' pages.)