Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Barnes Foundation

My daughter and I went to Philadelphia to visit Westtown school, and stayed an extra day to enjoy Philadelphia. We went to the Hagley, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and, most interesting, to the Barnes Foundation (not all in one day--we had parts of three days). The Barnes Foundation is a private museum, which at present is still arranged the way its founder set it up. It has an incredible collection--according to one book it has 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 60 Matisses, 40 Picassos. There are striking works by Horace Pippin in addition to the famous artists. The art is arranged very differently from a modern museum, not just more crowded on the wall but also with artists and periods mixed together rather than separated. There are times when there are four pictures in a square (two over two) and one is medieval, one renaissance, one impressionist, and one modern. Most of the time there isn't an obvious relationship, though we did notice one arrangement of impressionist paintings of nude women bathing with medieval paintings of hell beneath.

It is an amazing experience, sometimes I just felt visual and mental overload from the juxtapositions. We went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next day and it seemed so sterile. The Barnes Foundation is apparently going to move downtown, and assumably hang its collection in the modern manner, which would be a huge loss. Don't miss it if you know you are going anywhere near Philadelphia and beware--tickets usually need to be bought at least a month in advance.

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