|The warm and welcoming entrance to the Barnes Foundation museum.|
We finally made our visit to the new Barnes Foundation Art Museum. We had visited the museum in its previous incarnation in Merion, on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Due to local restrictions, and the restrictions of the foundation, visiting the Barnes was a complete pain in the ass in those days. After a contentious battle to break the conditions of Dr. Barnes will, and a controversial grab by the art/charity establishment, the collection has moved to a new museum in Philadelphia's museum district. Inside a severely plain stone box, they have recreated the interior and collection arrangement of the original museum. In addition, whether by accident or intent, visiting the new Barnes is also a complete pain in the ass. Limited numbers of visitors, timed tickets and a strange arrangement makes it rather user-unfriendly.
What is interesting is the arrangement and juxtapositions of the works, espousing Barnes' theories about art and design connections (whether interesting or just whacko I'll leave to others to judge). In addition, the framing of many works was interesting, in that it showed the taste of Barnes and the period.
Works are mostly tightly grouped, in fairly small rooms, along with African artifacts, early American iron work and furniture, etc. There are some masterpieces here, along with many smaller and lesser works, which makes the collection interesting in that it is a personal statement more so than a curated collection of a particular school or history of art. Renoir is probably the artist most heavily represented; unfortunately, not my favorite artist (when I look at Renoirs I keep thinking I am in a Hampton Inn).
Some of the small works (which can often be overlooked in large institutions) are really gems, such as the Demuths, and there are some nice examples of Prendergast and Mattisse. If you are at all interested in art, worth the visit, if only to see a different take on the museum arrangement and experience.
Wish I had some pictures taken inside, but of course they don't allow that. You can see some images on the Barnes website.
|Michener Museum entrance|
The next morning we visited the Michener Museum of Art in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A wonderful small museum, with a collection that features local artists and craft workers. There is a good selection of works from the school of Pennsylvania impressionism, which to my view, seems a bit "grittier" and realistic than, for example, the "Old Lyme" artists.
And of course, dear to my heart, the number of frames made for a number of these paintings by local carver/gilders Harer and Badura.
The painting shown here, "The Twins", is one of the most arresting in the collection. I know that every time we see twins represented we immediately want to compare it to Diane Arbus, but there is something about this painting that makes it hard to look away.