Visitors are welcome to think about anything they want as they make their way from the "Horse Armor of Duke Ulrich of Württemberg, for use in the field" to Bruce Nauman's "The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign)" - both fairly new.
But I spent enough time with d'Harnoncourt to know that she would have been immensely pleased if at some point during the experience we paused to think about the miracle of a comprehensive art museum: The aleatory, if still closely curated, way in which this collection has developed (90 percent of acquisitions are donations). The skill with which curators assemble and present works. And the way, sometimes unexpected, in which the proximity of two unrelated items can make you look at each one differently. Works speak to each other, d'Harnoncourt was fond of pointing out.
Not to get too It's-a-Wonderful-Life about it, but the museum would be a completely different place if d'Harnoncourt somehow hadn't found her way there in 1967. No primacy in Duchamp. No Gross Clinic. Asian art might be represented, but certainly not on the high level you can see as a result of her ardent support of that department.
Don't forget to notice, too, the many recent works given in her memory. Even now, d'Harnoncourt hasn't stopped growing the collection. She cheated death in this one way, and I think it's fair to say it's the way she would have loved most.
Summer at the Mann
From Dan DeLuca's
"In the Mix"
Between Richard III in Central Park, the Philadelphia Orchestra in Fairmount Park, and Bloomsday, I must say that I've been having quite the high-art week. But while hearing the Fab Philadelphians was a sure-fire kick, spending a night being rocked by Beethoven at the Mann Center mainly got me jonesing for the rock shows coming up in the season.
There are some good ones. West Coast-based promoter AEG Live contracted with the Mann to present the summer season, which kicks off, rock-wise, on June 27 with indie dance band Passion Pit, with Tokyo Police Club. A handful of genuinely buzz-worthy bills are on the way: Mike Patton and the reunited Faith No More on July 3; Arcade Fire with Spoon on Aug. 2 (the day before Arcade Fire's new CD The Suburbs hits); and the re-formed Pavement on Sept. 17. Other noteworthies: The Grateful Dead-centric Furthur fest on July 10-11; Squeeze and Cheap Trick on July 16; Rufus Wainwright on Aug. 4; Herbie Hancock on Aug. 10; MGMT on Aug. 15; and Tony Bennett on Aug. 28.
The 14,000-capacity Mann might prove to be a bit too big for some of these acts - indie-rock has blown up some, but it's still hardly classic-rock size. But with the open-air breeze and views of the Center City skyline, the Mann is the most pleasant large-scale outdoor venue in Philadelphia by a long shot - even if they do nail you for $15 to park. And the likes of Faith No More or the Arcade Fire certainly have the wherewithal to fill up the space with sound. It should be a good summer.