The Barnes Foundation – Philadelphia

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On a recent trip to Philadelphia I had occasion to visit the Barnes Foundation with my friend Winter. This is a wonderful collection of art from around the world and from different time periods. It is housed in a magnificent building  that is an architectural wonder. The photographs in this post are my impression of my visit and in no way exhaustive of what I saw.

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The following information from the brochure will give you some more facts about the collection and the philosophy behind it. I must say I was not prepared for what I saw and my jaw was agape from the time I walked into first gallery until the last.

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Top Picture: Models. George Seurat, 1886-1888

The Barnes is home to a world-class collection of impressionist, and early modernist paintings, with especially deep holdings in Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso.  Assembled by Dr. Albert C. Barnes between 1912-1951, the collection also includes important examples of African Art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, and wrought iron metalwork.

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The Card Players. Paul Cezanne, 1890-1892

The minute you walk into the galleries you’re in an experience like no other. Here you will find paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, And Pablo Picasso, hanging next to ordinary household objects: a door hinge, a spatula, a yarn spinner. On one wall you might see a French medieval sculpture displayed with a Navajo textile. Dr. Barnes chose to combine objects from different cultures, genres, and times to create diverse displays he called “ensembles.”

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Bather Drying Herself. Pierre-August Renoir

These ensembles, each one carefully put together by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to show the surprising similarities between objects we don’t normally thing of as belonging together. He arranged the works according to light, color, and space-principles that he called the “universal language of art.”

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Bathers in the Forest. Pierre-August Renoir, 1897

Dr. Barnes believed that art had the power to improve minds and transform lives. In 1922 he established the Barnes foundation as a school for learning how to see and appreciate art. He had a gallery built on Merion, a Philadelphia suburb, to house his growing collection. He held classes in the gallery so that students could learn directly from the art.

In 2012, after much controversy, his collection was moved to Philadelphia.

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Luncheon. Pierre-August Renoir, 1875

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Sailor Boy. Pierre-August Rodin, 1883

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Bather and Maid. Pierre-August Renoir, 1900-1901

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Woman with White Stockings. Gustave Courbet, 1864

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Before the Bath. Pierre-August Renoir, C. 1875

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Two Women Surrounded by Birds. Joan Miro, 1937

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Winter at the Barnes

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Studio with Gold Fish. Henri Matisse, 1912

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In the Galleries

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Leaving the Conservatory. Pierre-August Renoir, 1876-1877

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Girl with a Goat. Pablo Picasso

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The Music Lesson. Henri Matisse, 1917

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The Dance. Henri Matisse, 1932

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Mussel-Fishers at Bernal. Pierre-August Renoir

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Jean Hebuterne.  Amedeo Modigiani, 1919

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Two Standing Nudes. Jules Pascin, 1914

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Outside the Barnes

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Reflecting Pool Outside the Barnes

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Art on the Avenue

 

The Killer of Hope

The continuing saga…

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So, I was on a photo shoot with Candide in the old neighborhood. Here’s what happened.

Candide: Where should I stand?

Benn: How about over here with that building behind you in the background? Or, over there with the fountain behind you? Or, over there in front of that tree?

Candide keeps walking….

Benn: Or, hey! I have an idea! Why don’t you pick a spot?

Candide: Is that another smart-ass remark? More of your sarcasm?

Benn: What me? Sarcastic? You obviously have me confused with someone else!

Candide: No I don’t! It’s you all right! You with your sarcasm, your cynicism, and your skepticism. You a hope killer!

Benn: Hope kills…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silence (1963)

Movie Blurb

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Catching up on my Bergman. I’ve seen The Silence before, back in the 70s, when I first became acquainted with Bergman and he quickly became my favorite auteur. One benefits from the passage of time and the experience one gains from it. I watched The Silence again with new eyes and a new found appreciation. The Silence is a movie of visuals. Bergman strove to find a vocabulary of moving pictures with few words. There were 38 exchanges of dialogue in the film. He would have been happier with 28.

The characters are traveling by train home to Sweden and have to stop off in a strange city where they don’t speak the language making verbal communication impossible with the locals.

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Anna and Ester are sisters who are emotionally isolated from one another. Ester is ill and may be dying and she is the reason for the interruption of their journey. Anna represents the carnality of the pair and Ester is the intellectual component. Anna’s son, Johan, is along for the ride and keeps getting rejected and shunted aside as he first explores the corridors of the train then the empty hallways of the hotel.

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The Silence, was the final installment of his film trilogy, The Silence of God, which included, Through Glass Darkly and Winter Light. The word “silence” in the title of this film refers not only to the silence of God but also to the silence of the characters which represents a total breakdown in communication between human beings.

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When the film first came out in 1963 it was considered pornographic in some quarters. There are a couple of explicit scenes in the movie which are rather tame by today’s standards. During that time period however, Bergman, like always, was pushing the envelope.

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Pretty bleak stuff, but Bergman at his best.

Muhammad Ali Center

Photo Essay

The Muhammad Ali center is a multicultural center with an award wining museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. It is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville at 144 N. 6th Street. Ali was a boxing champ, a humanitarian, and a Louisville legend. He is widely regarded as one of the most important sports figures of the 20th century.

I recently visited the Muhammad Ali Center with a friend of mine who was visiting from Philly. While there I snapped a few pictures. Here is what I saw.

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Front Entrance

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Ali – Our Champion Forever

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Olympic Torch

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Islam vs. Christianity

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I am the Greatest!

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Winter in the window  overlooking the Ohio River

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Picture Ali

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A young Cassius Clay

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“Cassius immediately springs to his feet” -Leroy Neiman

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In the Lobby

Book Notes

The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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So, I finished one book and started another. I finished The Snows of Kilimanjaro and started Sweet Tooth.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is a book of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, some I have read before and some of which were new to me and I was reading for the first time. The last story in the collection was The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, my favorite Hemingway story and quite possibly my favorite short story of all time. The last time I read this story I was in my 20s. I remember when and where I read it and under what circumstances I was my reading it. It made such a large impression on me. So, these many years later, I read it again with great joy and new eyes. It still made a great impression on me and revived many fond memories. This story taught me at an early age that Hemingway lived by code and it was possible to even have a code. This was an early and important teaching in my life and one I have always tried to live by.

I picked up Sweet Tooth and began to read it. Within 10 pages I knew I was going to like it. First of all, it was dedicated to Christopher Hitchens. One of my favorite writers and one to whom I most look up to and strive to write like when I attempt to write nonfiction. It is not easy. He has set a high bar. A few pages in McEwan references some of my other favorites writers and books as well. These are writers of fiction who are also my heroes: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Vladimir Nabokov’s Bend Sinister, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. All of which I have read. I am betting this book will prove to be a good read!

White Lotus

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The lotus symbolizes the simultaneous nature of cause and effect or the laws of karma because it blossoms and produces seeds at the same time. We can create our own happiness under any circumstances. This is also symbolized by the lotus. The lotus grows and blossoms in a muddy swamp, yet remains utterly free of any defilement.

FUNERAL PROCESSION

Cemetery Blues

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Military funeral of Samuel V. Bell Sr. – 1981

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Bell Family – Samuel V. Bell Jr., Lewis Bell, his two sons Danny and David, and Sister Bert.

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Samuel Bell Jr, (my Father) Lewis Bell and Sister Bert, all gone

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My beautiful family, both gone

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He’ll be a grave man by morning

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A man of infinite jest

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They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

All moments in time are lost like tears in the rain…..

 

 

 

MEME

I have been thinking about this new word, meme, which has lately entered into the lexicon. For some reason, I don’t know quite know why, it seems to annoy me. To further inquire into this cognitive dissonance, which I feel whenever I see the word in print, I decided to do a little research. It turns out a meme is a newly coined word, coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins, that identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from person or group to another. A meme functions as a unit that carries cultural ideas from mind to mind through writing, speech, gestures or rituals. Some believe memes are analogous to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. Some question whether culture can be captured or reduced to discrete units such as memes. I would fall into this category and hence my sense of dis-ease whenever I hear the word. Another reason I dislike the word, I think, is that I don’t like the concept of herd mentality, groupthink, mob rule, or even, heaven help me, team player. However, a term to help us understand these phenomena can be useful, I suppose. It’s just that we have so many other words, perfectly good words. Do we really need to invent new ones?

Love in the Time of Cholera

Book Review

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“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of unrequited love.”

That is the first sentence of the novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

It tells you all you need to know about what is to follow. For this is a novel of unrequited love and about all the other kinds of love as well. And they are many. There is the central love triangle between Floerntino Ariza, Fermina Ariza, and Dr. Juvenal Urbino. But there are other kinds of love too: old and young, faithful and unfaithful, respectful and shameful, sexual and chaste, and everything in between.

Bitter almonds always remind me of death. That is also what this novel is about. Old age and death. One character takes his own life at age 70 rather than living to become old and feeble. Other characters live into their 70s and 80s and suffer all the ailments of old age lovingly detailed by the author.

Cholera features heavily in the book as the title suggests. This was a time when cholera was endemic to the geographic setting of the novel. It breaks out many times during the course of the book, causing death and motivating characters to move, and creating a constant state of fear. It is also a metaphor for love. One of the main characters falls ill several times throughout the novel and it is said of him, “The symptoms of love are the same as those of cholera.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez spins his magical tale like a spider spins a web, each sentence a silken thread that creates a web of intrigue that ensnares the reader’s imagination and draws them into the fold of the story.

When Florentino Ariza is denied the love of his life, Fermina Daza, when she marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, he vows to wait for her. He realizes it might be a long wait. He realizes he might have to wait until her husband dies, which he does 60 years later. Meanwhile, Florentino wastes no time getting involved with other women, always in the hopes of finding something that resembles love, but without the problems of love.

When Florentino visits the Widow Nazaret, she proclaims, “I adore you because you made me a whore.”  He taught her that nothing one does in bed is immoral if it perpetuates love. “One comes to the world with a predetermined allotment of lays and whoever does not use them for whatever reason, one’s own or someone’s else’s, willingly or unwillingly, loses them forever.” A tragic loss I might add.

Every character Is drawn with intricate detail both inside and out. From the time Florentino first falls in love with Fermina, when Dr. Juvenal Urbino is struck by the lightning of his love for Fermina, until 60 years later when Florentino has her finally in his grasp after Juvenal falls to his death at age 81 from a tree trying to catch a wayward parrot, each character having lived a life in full. At last Florentino and Fermina are together as they cruise up and down the river Magdalena, under the flag of Cholera, in the last phase of their own lives, “forever.”