Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back from Philly

Last week I had a chance to attend the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) national meeting in Philadelphia.

I had been to Philadelphia several time in the past but had never explored the streets around Center City and any art galleries.  This time I did a bit of both.

I was completely thrilled with Barnes Museum with its collection of Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Pendergrast and Native African Art all hung together in vignettes through the galleries. Oh yes there were also metal door knockers, knobs and hinges that echoed shapes in the adjacent paintings. Everything was hung symmetrically and in strict dedication to the wishes of Dr. Barnes who amassed this amazing collection.

Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) grew up poor and tough in Philadelphia but showed intellectual promise and went to one of the best high schools in the area. He earned a medical degree and then set up a pharmaceutical manufacturing partnership with a frien. They manufactured an antiseptic silver compound they called, Argyrol.

Barnes became a very wealthy man and was clever enough to sell his company before the stock market crash in 1929, so he retained his wealth when others lost everything.

Barnes began collecting art in 1912. He wanted to educate people about art. He collected what he loved and amassed a huge collection of paintings, sculpture, jewelry and textiles from the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, Europe and America. He displayed the collection in an idiosyncratic way that was not well appreciated at that time. The "ensembles" as he called them combined all the different objects in symmetrical arrangements throughout the galleries.

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