Robert Hughes, 1938-2012

The Phillips Collection had the honor of working with art critic Robert Hughes in the production of our 1999 permanent collection catalogue, The Eye of Duncan Phillips. When reading his contributed essay, “Art and Intimacy”, it is clear that Hughes embraced the place of the museum and the vision and passion of its founder.

Phillips was in fact the compleat optical collector. He craved color sensation, the delight and radiance and sensory intelligence that is broadcast by an art based on color. Color healed; it consoled; it gave access to Eden. He could not understand – except on the plane of theory – why art should be expected to do anything else . . . . You might say that Phillips’s lifetime attachment to color began with a therapeutic instant, one that could be recaptured over and over again, almost at will, in the presence of painting.

Robert Hughes, “Art and Intimacy”, from The Eye of Duncan Phillips, 1999