Philadelphia: The Barnes Collection 2: A Makers Year 33

This collection is one of the Wonders of the World . Not only because it is the vision of one man, but because of the intensity of that vision. Barnes didn’t buy safe, he bought painters of his day at a time, unlike now, when explosive new art was being made. More great paintings from one period in one place than anywhere I can think of. Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne, Modigliani, all in profusion. And unlike many private collections he bought the GOOD ones.  Sure there are some stinkers here, but thats life, here you see the the real deal.

As I went into the space I was offered headphones and an app to go on my phone. ” No thanks ” I said ” But why?” the kind lady said “Almost every one does this”. And indeed they did, I was surrounded by visitors listening to a guided tour. ” No thanks” I stuck out ” I have travelled eleven hours to SEE this, not listen to your tour.”  There is only so much one can eat at one go and i knew I had a big meal in front of me.

Stunned is not the word. I was pole axed by the place. More great Cezannes than I have ever seen before in one place. Seeing them was like a two week vacation in the Midi. Modigliani after Modigliani, after, no too much. And the Van Gogh Post Master. Aaaaaaghh….

But the best for me was the Matisse dance. This is a huge tryptic of three semi circular canvasses that sit at the top of this art filled palace. As a former mural painter I knew it really well from illustrations. The real thing just took me somewhere a great work of art can only do. It transports you. It moves you.

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No illustrations of this were available, so I will show one. This was blagged by some nasty person from a book in the shop.

“Were are the other three? ” was my question. Surely there were six in the series? The nice lady could not answer so she found me an even nicer lady called Bunny that did, in detail. The first set are in Paris, Matisse painted them commissioned by Barnes for $30,000. But he got the size wrong . Furniture makers can relate to this. So Barnes made him do it all again.

Which do you prefer the top three are Philly the bottom Paris?

Must go to Paris.



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