Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dr. Barnes

I used to go to Main Line estate sales and, after parting with a total of maybe twenty bucks, would return home with treasures like a broken vintage floor lamp, bizarre glass objects, and a first edition copy of The Art of Cezanne by Dr. Albert Barnes & Violette De Mazia (1939).  Just as its previous owner had hardly cracked the book open, either have I since my purchase (for under $2) about thirty years ago.    But it is intriguing to discover what about his artwork enthused Dr. Barnes - realizing that he was, first off, a man of science.   Needless to say, he amassed an incredible artwork collection, and for me the Barnes Foundation has been in the top five favorite places around Philly. I’ve held on to the book in homage to my great fascination.

I’m also fascinated by the efforts of Tod Williams Billie Tsien in creating the new surroundings for Dr. Barnes’ collection.  Having recently heard them talk about their painstaking design process, I was greatly impressed by the level of care and attention given to each aspect of the design, the daylighting for one example.  Letting alone the discussion about taking away a man’s personal belongings, the task of moving such a major art collection, which I’ve read to be valued at $ 6-8 billion, is a big deal.  I look forward to the new gallery’s becoming one of my new Philly favorites.

Glenn W,  Feb. 2012  

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