I am here in Philly for only the second time in my life and determined to see some great art. I am here rationally for a conference on Social Media Stuff but the real reason is the art and the mates. More later.
The Barnes collection has been with me all my life. Though I had never seen it. My love of it has been through illustrations of great works in books and magazines. This guy Barnes had the largest totally private collection of 20th Century modern art. Too big to shake a stick at. He kept it private though, only allowing some visitors to view it by arrangement.
Now the old b…… has died they have moved it to a public building that replicates the hang in the Barnes old home. This is a “good doing” and a piece of serious architecture so i want to look at that first
Its madness that a collection of this calibre shout NOT be a public collection. So three cheers for the judge that broke the will that prevented it.
BUT there are some problems, going in was I think $22 dollars which is about par. You could only pay by credit card, no cash. This excludes a lot of people. To see this properly, this is major undertaking, one has to to come here again and again. Once will only tickle the surface.
The outside of the new gallery is OK. But a bit has the feel of an expensive public lavatory on an absurdly grand scale. A great Ellsworth Kelly “finger in the air” greets you. A calm watery moat and pathways through imposing wooden portals takes you in.
Inside one enters not the collection but a series of rooms to disrobe you, then to pass you through buying experiences, and take you to an enormous anti room.
Impressive it may be, and that is the intension, with all these lovely expensive surfaces. This is a public building of Purpose and Historical Significance. WHY such a silly room? It has all the pompous uselessness of an overblown railway terminal. Nobody that i could see uses this space, except to maybe sit down and recover. Nobody is going anywhere or doing anything except visiting the collection.
Phew!….. being nasty to that worthy building was hard work