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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Luncheon. Pierre-August Renoir, 1875
Sailor Boy. Pierre-August Rodin, 1883
Bather and Maid. Pierre-August Renoir, 1900-1901
Woman with White Stockings. Gustave Courbet, 1864
Before the Bath. Pierre-August Renoir, C. 1875
Two Women Surrounded by Birds. Joan Miro, 1937
Winter at the Barnes
Studio with Gold Fish. Henri Matisse, 1912
In the Galleries
Leaving the Conservatory. Pierre-August Renoir, 1876-1877
Girl with a Goat. Pablo Picasso
The Music Lesson. Henri Matisse, 1917
The Dance. Henri Matisse, 1932
Mussel-Fishers at Bernal. Pierre-August Renoir
Jean Hebuterne. Amedeo Modigiani, 1919
Two Standing Nudes. Jules Pascin, 1914
Outside the Barnes
Reflecting Pool Outside the Barnes
Art on the Avenue