After being without a chief curator for more than a year following Judith Dolkart’s move to the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Barnes Foundation has chosen Sylvie Patry as its new chief curator and deputy director for collections and exhibitions. She will begin the position in January 2016. Patry comes to Philadelphia after serving as the chief curator of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Many of Dr. Alfred Barnes’ commissioned artists, as famous as they are now, marched to the beat of their own drum at the time they lived and painted. So it’s somewhat fitting that The Barnes Foundation is partnering with La Colombe tonight to showcase Different Drum–the coffee roaster’s own rum at an event at the Barnes Foundation.
Rum cocktails at an art gallery? What could possibly go wrong…
Many teenagers would argue that museum tours don’t exactly scream cool … up until now. The Philly museum scene is gaining youth appeal with the help of The Greater Philadelphia Culture Alliance’s Students At Museums in Philly (STAMP) program.
On Thursday May 28th hundreds of Philly teens will flock to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to partake in the debut of the teen-crafted STAMP Audio Tours. After special announcements by the STAMP Teen Council and Mayor Michael Nutter, hundreds of youth will be released to partake in a free scavenger hunt that will take participants through five different museums along the Parkway.
The Barnes Foundation is known for their collection of impressionist and early modern artwork, including 69 pieces of work by Cézanne. Well, now make that 71. In the process of conserving some of Cézanne’s watercolors, the Barnes Foundation discovered two previously undocumented Cézanne sketches that were covered by brown paper and stashed within the frame. According to Barbara Buckley, the Barnes Foundation’s senior director of conservation and chief painting conservator, “we’ve had [the watercolors] out of frames before. But the backs were covered with brown paper. That’s one of the reasons they were sent [for conservation]. Brown paper is very acidic and they needed acid-free paper.” After the brown paper was taken off the work of Trees (c. 1900), the conservators at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia found a black and white sketch of a house with part of the Toile range that Cézanne frequented while sketching and painting. The conservators also discovered on the back of Chaine de l’Etoile Mountains (c. 1885 or 1886) an unfinished sketching of trees. The piece was laid down by pencil with color added on top.
A Barnes spokeswoman states, “as part of our educational mission, we felt it was important for the public to see these.” L’Etoile, Trees, and the two discovered pieces of art will be on a special display for eight weeks in an education room.
The Barnes Foundation has named its new director. Thom Collins comes here from Miami, where he was director of the Perez Art Museum Miami. Collins is a native Philadelphian.
Mr. Collins, 46, who also served for five years as director of the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, N.Y., said he was drawn to the Barnes not only because it was one of the places where he first learned about art while growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, but also because of the philosophy of its founder, Albert C. Barnes, a pharmaceutical tycoon who cast it more as a teaching institution than as a traditional museum.
“I’ve always thought of myself as an educator,” said Mr. Collins, who added that he felt that the Barnes had “really never been able to bridge to that great academic community in and around Philadelphia” — schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University and Swarthmore College, his undergraduate alma mater.
Asked his opinion about the Barnes’s relocation from the suburb of Merion — permitted in a 2004 court decision that circumvented the charter and bylaws of Barnes, who had stipulated that his collection could not be lent, sold or moved from its original home — Mr. Collins said: “To me it seems like an unqualified success. I have no reservations now about it at all, and I wouldn’t be going there if I did.”
Writer and art historian Avis Berman is the curator of The Barnes Foundation‘s latest exhibit, “William Glackens.” William Glackens was a Philadelphia-born painter and friend of art collector Albert C. Barnes. We asked Berman about Glackens as an artist, the exhibit, and its signature piece, Family Group (above).
How and when was Family Group made? William Glackens always painted his environment, especially the immediate world around him, and one of the reasons for Family Group is that its contours changed. He and his wife and son moved from a small apartment on Washington Square into a larger apartment on Lower Fifth Avenue in autumn of 1908. The parlour or living room was subsequently decorated with richly patterned rugs and furniture, and Glackens wanted to capture that riot of color and texture, illuminated by streaming sunlight, after the room took shape. It was clearly a challenge to incorporate four figures into that complex background, and he worked on it in 1910 and 1911. It is the largest canvas he ever painted, and one critic was amazed by its “power of organization” and “sustained effort.”
Who are the people featured in Family Group? The people in Family Group are Edith Dimock Glackens, the artist’s wife, who is standing with her arm on the chair; her sister, Irene Dimock, who is seated below her, Edith and William Glackens’s four-year-old son Ira, and, at the far right, an old friend of Edith’s named Grace Dwight Morgan.
How did the painting compare with its contemporaries? Family Group was certainly more advanced than the work Glackens’s original Philadelphia gang, headed by Robert Henri and John Sloan, were doing, although it was not as avant-garde as abstract and semi-abstract as some of the younger American artists in the circle of Alfred Stieglitz. But here Glackens charts his own path between. He’s moved beyond Impressionism and into territory pioneered by Henri Matisse—every surface is radiant, as Glackens begins to blur boundaries between background and foreground. And as with Matisse, light transforms and idealizes material things. Only a handful of American artists at that time were familiar enough with Matisse to experiment with his innovations, and it’s no surprise that one shocked reviewer called the canvas “a scream of color.”
What does the painting symbolize to you? Since the painting is titled Family Group, you might wonder why Grace Morgan, who is not a family member, is in it. Originally she was not included in the picture, but when Glackens saw her in the colorful red-and-white dress she had just bought at Paul Poiret in Paris—making the other women’s garb look comparatively frumpy—he changed the entire composition and palette to put her in. Morgan’s addition to the canvas symbolizes the necessity for progressive American artists to recognize and embrace contemporary currents in French art. Glackens had already assimilated the discoveries of the Impressionists, Cézanne, and the Fauves, and in 1913 he would publish an article proclaiming the importance and value of French art. In a sense, Family Group predicted these sentiments and made them sartorially concrete.
How does Family Group represent the exhibit as a whole? I wanted to talk about Family Group for several reasons. First, it is an expression of Glackens’s aesthetic credo, as I’ve talked about in the previous question. Second, it is critical to the history of the Barnes Foundation. Family Group, along with other paintings similar in color and ambition, would have been in Glackens’s studio when Albert C. Barnes, who had gone to Central High School with Glackens, looked him up in late 1911 and renewed their friendship. From the canvases he saw, Barnes would have been secure that Glackens understood modern painting. He knew that the artist could be trusted to be his eyes in Paris when he sent him to France in February 1912 with $20,000.00 to buy modern French art for him. Glackens came back with 33 paintings and works on paper by, among others, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cézanne, and his purchases represent the genesis of the Barnes Foundation’s collection.
Family Group also represents the exhibition because it was in the epochal International Exhibition of Modern Art of 1913, known as the Armory Show. Glackens was an important advocate for the introduction of modern art in this country. He was in the thick of such landmark exhibitions as the Armory Show, as well as The Eight in 1908, the Independents Show in 1910, and this painting is connected to his role as a significant cultural figure in the struggle for the acceptance of avant-garde painting in America.
10 Things To Do In Philly This Weekend: Tig Notaro Live, First Friday, A New Barnes Exhibit, First Person Arts Festival and More
From now through September 19th, art aficionados can head to the museum from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays for special evening hours, where you can peruse the collections at your leisure while indulging in cocktails and witty conversation inside the expansive indoor spaces, or outdoors along the terrace.
Newsworks reports that President Obama will award the National Medal of Arts to Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, architects of the new Barnes Foundation (as well as Penn’s Skirkanich Hall and two dorms at Haverford College), and to James Turrell, the extraordinary light artist who recently created one of his signature “skyspaces” in Chestnut Hill, along with nine other recipients.