Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Friday links
July First Thursday
Rocksbox turns 5: SON OF A SON SON OF A SON BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
Monday Links
Maggie Casey at 12128
Summertime Opportunities
Drawings by Laura Lucille Witman 1927 to 1934
Monday Links
Collisions in June
Chase Baido's Enter: The Troll at PSU
MSHR at Appendix for the Solstice
Monday Links

recent comments

categories

 

Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Essays
Interviews
News
Openings & Events
Photoblogs
Reviews
Video
Links
About PORT

regular contributors

 

Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman

archives

 

Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006

contact us

 

Contact us

search

 


syndicate

 

Atom
RSS

powered by

 

Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a

 

Creative Commons License

Monday 05.14.12

« Friday Links | Main | Paul Pfeiffer lecture at PSU »

Barnes Storming

interior-shot-Barnes_foundation.jpg
Interior of the original Barnes Foundation

I've discussed the Barnes Collection numerous times over the years, and now it is open to the public in a new building in downtown Philly. I haven't seen it yet but on principle I believe it is important to weigh in.

Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times doesn't dig the building. Frankly it was an impossible commission, part of the charm is the destination, the old building smells, creaky floors and less than perfect light.

But even more fascinating is this very well written piece by Jerry Saltz that I nearly completely disagree with.

Though I generally applaud Jerry's sentiment that no collector should dictate the terms for best viewing the art (especially after they die) in this case I can't agree. Very few collectors deserve equal billing with artists but in this case I believe the incredibly idiosyncratic Barnes did. What is lost by creating a pseudo structure that makes the works more accessible is to lose part of the story of modern art and thus the roots of how we decoupled the power of the image (art, advertising etc.) from the institution and the state.

By making it more accessible/institutional and convenient one loses the esoteric sense of pilgrimage and it becomes a sort of Pirates of the Caribbean ride for early 20th century, mostly French art. In short my argument is thus, Art IS the refuge of brilliant crackpots (who therefore are not crackpots at all) and we should celebrate/indulge them when they reach Dr. Barnes' level because it tells a rich historical story that something like MoMA or the Whitney could not ever tell.

The fact that this couldn't be done is sad and probably a very East Coast problem (if the Barnes had been in Oregon or California we would have kept it in its original buildings). West of the Mississippi we like our idiosyncratic art people... Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Robert Irwin, J.P. Getty, Sam Hill (Maryhill Museum), Armand Hammer, The Oliver Ranch, The Kramlichs, Winchester House, Peter Norton, Henry E. Huntington even Eli Broad for their ability to defy institutional conventions and say, "I'm going to do this my way." Sure, people grumble but that's the point of doing things your way. That inherent insolence is very American and its example goes far far beyond art... though art is perhaps the greatest teacher when it comes to individuality and more importantly original thinking.

Sure, great art like this justifies itself but I seriously doubt that better lighting and less creaky floors have enhanced or changed the standing of those pieces. We have gained access and lost the finer points of the plot by allowing this to happen to the Barnes in the name of tourism. Art history isn't just the art, it is the way esoteric eyes and minds seize on the ideas that these artists articulate so individually. Dr. Barnes was the shining example of the art story that isnt just the artsists. 500 years from now this move will continue to be seen as a tourism driven blunder masquerading in the false guise of populism (which really doesn't serve art anyways).

Posted by Jeff Jahn on May 14, 2012 at 12:24 | Comments (0)


Comments

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?


s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee