Monday, August 08, 2011

True of all collections but one

Holland Cotter had a lengthy piece last week on the Met's plan to use the Whitney building to display its collection of modern and contemporary art, when the Whitney moves downtown in 2015.  He includes the following thoughts:

"Objects do move. They aren’t static. They never rest. Physically they’re changing, degrading, all the time. Their histories are dynamic. Under close, patient, repeated questioning by curators and conservators they unfold their stories. They reveal who made them, when, where, how, why. Curators ask certain kinds of questions, conservators other kinds. And they have to keep asking because as the objects perpetually change, so does knowledge and a sense of what matters. No case is ever closed."

No case but one:  the Barnes collection, we are repeatedly told by opponents of its five-mile move up the road, is perfect as it is.  It is static.  It has come to rest.  No further questions should be asked.  We already know everything there is to know about the works.  As I wrote last summer:

"The Barnes ... is perfect exactly how and where it is. It cannot be improved upon. Don't move a hair on its head. Don't re-think anything, ever. They got it right the first time. (What were the odds!) It was, is, and always will be . . . perfection."