I've only visited the Barnes collection once in -- oh, what year... 1989 or 90. It has always been difficult, by design, to see the things in the Merion, Pennsylvania house that represent years of astute (and lucky) collecting. I remember a warm day. And being bowled over by the medieval ironwork on display in the rooms which gave a new meaning to "crammed." I was bowled over by a lot of things, actually. As a painter I was very interested in the Cezannes, etc., and we didn't have as much time to go through it all as I'd've wished. The Barnes Foundation has been in the news for years -- it seems never to be OUT -- but now it's REALLY in the news. They say that for the Barnes Foundation to survive it has to move to the Ben Franklin Parkway (my old stomping grounds) to be alongside the art museum, the Rodin Museum, and in the best spot for paying customers who will be able to park without causing neighborhood complaints. It was always the grooviest thing about the Barnes that it was so bound with strictures that no one could get in, or even know what was in there, without the utmost difficulty (or living nearby). But - things change and move on. We live in a world where things are so crowded there's no place for extreme regulation of inflow. Even when a tiny percentage of the world's population wants in, that adds up to far more than the Barnes founder wanted in. My advice is: put all the fabulous paintings in a building on Ben Franklin Parkway. Change the Barnes Foundation to a collection of all the other things... The medieval ironwork stands out to me, but they have an incredible variety of beautiful objucts. Besides, it's not the style anymore to display things in the crowded way the things are displayed here. Well, if they could get a court order allowing them to break the strictures...
One never thinks before one becomes ill that a trip to see something will be the last one. At the time I'd've thought, "Well, I can always come back." Indeed, with so many beautiful things, one visit is scratching the surface. I've always become overloaded quite quickly -- so anything after I reach that point is wasted. There isn't any advice I could give -- such as "Live every day as though it is your last." Come now.
posted by - 11:48 AM