Saturday, October 03, 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."

Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron previews this Wednesday's presentation to the Philadelphia Art Commission:

"People in art and architectural circles have been especially keen to know how the designers would resolve the challenging problem of re-creating the Barnes' distinctive gallery experience in a modern building in an urban setting. The sequence of the Barnes' Merion galleries and the arrangement for hanging the artwork have long been considered nearly as important as the artwork itself. They reflect the theories that the patent-medicine mogul Albert Barnes developed in the 1920s as he amassed the world's greatest assemblage of works by Cezanne, Matisse, and Renoir. Barnes considered the 'hang,' as museum experts call it, so fundamental that he stipulated in his will ... that the artwork could never be reorganized or moved. The foundation's battles with its Merion neighbors and the resulting financial insolvency caused the Barnes to reassess that clause. When foundation officials petitioned Montgomery County Orphans Court in 2004 to break Barnes' will and move the collection to Philadelphia, they did, however, promise to replicate the Merion building's floor plan and the hanging scheme."