The Artist Sees Differently: Martin Paddack

MARTIN PADDACK, museum shop book buyer

Martin Paddack with two of his paintings, Light and Time on the Hudson, (left) and Teardrop, Florence (right). (Photo by Rolf Rykken)

How did you learn about the Phillips?

When I came to the United States as a 10 year old, The Phillips Collection (and the National Gallery of Art) were my very first experiences at art museums. My father took me to the Phillips, and I remember sitting with him in the low light of the Rothko Room and having him tell me to simply look and let my eyes adjust to the color. We sat there for a long time. It was a moment that carried me into another world, that within it held both the memory of where I had just come from (South America and the Caribbean) and a mysterious world of color that was to come. I will never forget it.

Do you feel you are inspired by the Phillips’s art?

As a painter, you draw on everything that surrounds you, and so yes, it is a privilege to be surrounded by such wonderful artworks at the Phillips. When a painter enters any museum, it is difficult not to be inspired.

What do you listen to as you paint?

A little bit of everything: from rock and roll to post-punk/new wave, to electronica, to pop, to latin music. I was raised listening to classical music (my father is a composer), so I often listen to it, as well. One thing for certain, I cannot paint in silence. I always need the music present.

Who’s your favorite artist in the collection?

My favorite painting far and away is The Repentant St. Peter (1600-1605 or later) by El Greco. There is just something so other-worldly about the light of El Greco. It achieves a certain state of grace and is so moving and deeply spiritual. Every time I see the painting it reaches way into a place that only the heart knows, and tugs.

Do you collect other artwork – or anything?

As it is with so many other people I am sure, I carry a personal museum with me of all the favorite paintings in the world that is always being added to everywhere I go.

And do you have a favorite Marjorie Phillips painting?

Definitely Nuns on the Roof (1922). It’s a beautiful little painting that captures a real New York moment.

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