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Preston’s Quotes Quiz

Published May 19, 2020

In this installment of Home Work, MoFA Director Preston McLane shares some of his work through a fun quiz! Over the past several weeks, Preston has been working from home, researching such topics as landscape photography, Napoleon movies, and instruction based art for upcoming exhibitions at the museum.

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze, Hidden Relief, mixed media, 168 x 60 x 12” (2001). Installation view, Asia Society, New York 2001-04. © Sarah Sze.

These days, we are all looking for inspiration. It is nice to know that we are not alone in our thoughts, that we are together in this, that we are sharing an experience (even if at a distance), and that in other times people have faced great challenges and come through them.

When I write descriptive or interpretative texts for exhibitions, classes, or social media posts, I like to include quotes by artists as often as I can.  There can be a lot of humor, insight, and wisdom packed into these little phrases.  In the exhibition catalog for Documenta 7 (1982), Gerhard Richter expressed this sentiment, as applicable now as ever – “Art is the highest form of hope.” “Art has saved my life on a regular basis,” Carrie Mae Weems said in a 2014 interview in Ebony celebrating 30 years of her art practice.  British sculptor Antony Gormley concludes his artist statement with “Art is always for the future.”

I have assembled here ten favorites, presented together with some context clues. Use the bank of artists’ names to pair the quote, and send your completed quiz to Preston ( or Annie (  Those who get them all correct will be featured on MoFA’s Instagram page as a Quotes Quiz Winner.

Hedda Sterne

Hedda Sterne, NY, NY No. X, oil on canvas, Tate Modern (1948). © Estate of Hedda Sterne / DACS 2020.




John Baldessari      Louis Daguerre      Elizabeth Jane Gardner

Dorothea Lange      Wangechi Mutu      Robert Rauschenberg

Cindy Sherman      Hedda Sterne      Sarah Sze       Kehinde Wiley







  1. “I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight.” This pioneering artist was quoted in John Thompson’s A History and Handbook of Photography (1876).
  2. “The idea of knowing exactly where you are going is overrated.” This contemporary artist, here quoted in a 2012 New Yorker profile, is now a Professor of Visual Arts at Columbia University.
  3. “I’m a scissor maniac. I cut everything.” This multimedia artist and filmmaker was quoted in Sarah Thornton’s 33 Artists in 3 Acts (2015).

    Kehinde Wiley

    Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, oil on canvas, 80 x 68” (2013). Stephen Friedman Gallery, New York. © Kehinde Wiley.

  4. “Instead of looking at things, look between things.” This conceptual artist and educator was quoted in a 2009 interview in Art in America.
  5. “Believing in one’s own art becomes harder and harder when the public response grows fonder.” This famed self-portraitist was quoted in Photography Speaks: 150 Photographers on Their Art published by Aperture in 2004.
  6. “Painting is the best way I’ve found to get along with myself.” This American pop artist celebrated for his “combines” was quoted in a 2005 interview in the New Yorker.
  7. “I have just received $400 in gold for one of the pictures, and have spent it nearly all for curious things to paint.” This expatriate American wrote in a letter to her sister after having her works included at the 1868 Salon in Paris.
  8. “Sometimes in a hostile situation you stick around, because hostility itself is important.” This documentary photographer and photojournalist was quoted in a 1964 oral history project, now archived at the Smithsonian Institution.
  9. “For the sublime and the beautiful and the interesting, you don’t have to look far away.” This Romanian-born abstract expressionist was quoted in a 2007 interview in Art in America.
  10. “In the 21st century when we’re used to clicking and browsing and having constant choice, painting simply sits there silently and begs you to notice the smallest of detail.” This presidential portrait painter was quoted in a 2010 oral history interview for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.