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Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Barnes Foundation - have you been?

Via Visit Philly
You may or may not have heard of the Barnes Foundation, located in Marion, PA (just minutes outside of Philadelphia).  The Barnes Foundation has quite an amazing collection of Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Modern paintings.  In the photo above you can see a mural that Henri Matisse created just for this location, in fact Matisse actually visited the Barnes Foundation.  There are also quite a few Picasso paintings and Van Gogh paintings (a personal favorite). The description from the website states...

"The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of nineteenth and twentieth-century French painting in the world. An extraordinary number of masterpieces by Renoir, Cézanne and Matisse provide a depth of work by these artists unavailable elsewhere. Established as an educational institution the Barnes carries out its mission teaching classes in its galleries and Arboretum. The Barnes welcomes visitors and students throughout the year."

I wanted to go, because soon (2011/2012) the entire collection will be moved from it's current location in a beautiful estate home to a new home in Center City Philadelphia, the new Parkway Building.  I wanted to see it in it's original setting.  It is unusual because the paintings are hung salon style.  The website states, "He chose and arranged the works in 'wall ensembles' in the Gallery to illustrate for the Foundation's students the visual elements and aesthetic traditions he felt were evident in all art forms across periods and cultures."  In addition, there is quite a bit of antique furniture and Pennsylvania-German folk art in the galleries.  

So, when you listen to the audio tour not only do they describe the paintings but they also describe why the paintings (and even some of the furniture) were hung/displayed together.  In one gallery there is a large Matisse painting in the middle of the wall with a Rousseau still life on each side, then further out (on each side) are two small Miro paintings then sitting on the floor below the Miros are 2 antique candle stands - the feet of each candle stand are a bit different but they matche the lines in each of the Miro paintings.  That is the kind of thought that went into placing the artwork. 

To say the least the collection is AMAZING and it was a very inspiring day!  I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is quite a bit of controversy about moving this collection from it's original home.  If you are interested in learning more about this aspect of The Barnes Foundation you could rent the movie, "The Art of the Steal".

If you have now decided that you to must go visit the Barnes Foundation before it moves, please make sure to MAKE RESERVATIONS!!!  In addition, you can purchase a parking pass - this is a very good idea!  The Foundation is located in a neighborhood without much additional, you decide if it's worth it (I think it is).  I am not sure when this location will be closing - it is difficult to find this exact information. So, if you decide you want to go - make you plans soon!  The new location is slated to open in late 2011.  It's worth the trip!  Enjoy


Mary said...

I saw that documentary and found it so interesting. What a treat for you to see that amazing collection the way Albert C Barnes had intended! Wish I was closer so I could as well.

Kathy said...

Very informative post, Susan. I wish I had known about this when I traveled to PA and NY several years ago. You are lucky you were able to view it before it will be dismantled.

caroline said...

Great information. Time is running out to see the Barnes in its original location. Thanks for your enthusiasm about this gem of a collection.

Susan Bivona, Art Teacher said...

Just a quick update - the Barnes will be closing the Marion location on July 3, 2011!

Jacqueline Cassidy said...

I've been to the Barnes as well and it is fantastic! Living in the Philadelphia area, I have heard about the disputes and legal battles concerning the move for years. I've also been seeing the construction of the new building in Philadelphia, down the street from the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well. It's a shame that the Barnes will be moving because seeing it the way Albert Barnes wanted us to is a real treat. And yet, adding another art museum to Center City Philadelphia will help make the city a bigger tourist attraction. I hope they display the artwork in the same spirit as it is in the original Barnes home.


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