June 26, 2011 |
The Barnes Foundation in leafy Merion closes next Sunday to prepare for transporting its priceless art collection to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a move of only a few miles, yet so many years, lawsuits, and millions of dollars in the making. On Thursday, I went to visit the paintings and metal bric-a-brac in the Paul Cret building a final time. The place was surprisingly uncrowded, once you got past the main gallery, where people tend to linger in slack-jawed wonder. Overwhelming is the word docents and guards hear more than any other.
April 5, 2011 |
GROWING UP in Bala Cynwyd, many of my journeys would cross paths with the Barnes Foundation. As those in the art world know, the Barnes is a unique endeavor that houses an art collection that rivals any in the world. And the purpose of this collection isn't just to house art for its own sake, but to be used as an educational tool. Albert Barnes, in creating its endowment, specifically didn't want his collection of works from Cezanne to Matisse to be just a museum. He had a purpose for his art - to teach - and the education would be conducted on an estate in Merion, where the art is. Despite Barnes' intentions, pressure to move the collection to another location began in earnest in the 1990s.
March 26, 2011 |
The state attorney general and the Barnes Foundation have asked Montgomery County Orphans' Court to dismiss the eleventh-hour legal effort to block the relocation of the foundation's renowned art collection from Merion to Philadelphia. The latest turn in the lengthy legal proceedings over the Barnes and its trove of Cezannes, Renoirs, Matisses, and other masters came after opponents of the move filed a court petition last month to reopen the case. In that petition, the Friends of the Barnes asked Judge Stanley R. Ott, who has presided over the case since 2002, to take another look, based largely on quotes from the 2009 documentary movie The Art of the Steal . The Barnes and the attorney general argue in their responses that there is nothing new in the opponents' legal briefs or the movie, and that the Friends of the Barnes and its members cannot intervene in the case anyway because they have no legal standing.
August 7, 2010
Large fortunes are made, usually by outstanding business acumen followed by prudent investing. Piles of money can make even larger piles of money very quickly. It is certainly a positive when very wealthy members of society pledge to give away half their fortunes . . . or is it? How many of those "gifts" are value-free? It can, in some instances, just be another way of extending the power of these already powerful men far into the future ("Lenfest makes giving pledge," Thursday). H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest's gift to "save" the Barnes Foundation is a prime example.
June 13, 2010 |
Albert C. Barnes fell in love with the paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir at first sight. "I am convinced I cannot get too many Renoirs," he wrote to fellow collector Leo Stein, brother of Gertrude, in 1913. This was only a year after Barnes began to assemble the magnificent art collection now housed at the Barnes Foundation in Merion. The world knows how the irascible doctor's passion played out - in 181 Renoirs, the largest group by the artist anywhere. And of those, about 85 percent belong to what many scholars consider to be the artist's late period, roughly between 1890 and his death in 1919.
February 26, 2010 |
"The Art of the Steal" is a documentary posing as a heist movie - the heist being our city fathers' confiscation of Albert Barnes' priceless art. The movie sides with a coalition of Barnes' friends, students and art lovers who've actively opposed efforts to uproot his suburban collection and convert it into a downtown tourist site and cash machine. Will this rebel alliance succeed, the movie asks, or "will a man's will be broken and one of America's greatest cultural monuments be destroyed?"
November 14, 2009 |
After years of litigation, court hearings, protests, and fund-raising, the renowned Barnes Foundation, long of Latchs Lane in Merion, finally broke ground yesterday morning for a $150 million museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. "Let me say very clearly," Mayor Nutter told an audience of several hundred assembled in an enormous tent at the construction site near 21st Street. "After a long journey, the Barnes is coming to Philadelphia. This is going to happen.
October 3, 2009 |
Nine years after the Barnes Foundation stunned the art world with a high-risk proposal to escape its litigious Merion neighbors by moving its renowned collection of Impressionist art to Philadelphia, it is getting ready to reveal its most closely guarded secret: what its new home will look like. Foundation officials are scheduled to appear before the Philadelphia Art Commission at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to seek conceptual approval for a new, larger gallery and classroom building on the Parkway between 20th and 21st Streets, the former site of the Youth Study Center.
May 15, 2009
THE Museum of Art was originally going to be built on Lemon Hill and there are drawings showing it there. Someday, it might be said that the new home of the Barnes was going to be built a long half-mile away from the art museum, and there are drawings showing it there, too. The folkloric story of Albert Barnes vs. the establishment is a famous Philadelphia story of blue-collar Barnes making his fortune, buying underappreciated French paintings and...
April 29, 2009
FURTHERMORE ... Hidden costs in moving the Youth Study Center The editorial criticizing "councilmanic privilege," in connection with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell's holding up a site for the new Youth Study Center at a price to the city, state, and the PHA of $12 million, was commendable ("While families wait," Thursday). However, not included in that figure are the millions of taxpayer dollars in expenses, caused by the delay necessitating an interim move, and the cost of rehabbing the former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute for use as a temporary YSC. Plus, there is the questionable giveaway of valuable city property to a private institution, particularly in view of the fact that it appears that the city did not engage in a feasibility study of its merit.