On the occasion of the opening of the new Barnes Foundation musuem in Philadelphia, Jed Perl re-reads The Art of Painting and The Art of Renoir by Dr. Albert C. Barnes.
Both books, Perl writes "have a blunt, evangelical force; they’re textbooks dedicated to transcendent values, written at a time when Barnes, a friend and disciple of John Dewey, believed that an appreciation for art could really change a person’s life... Barnes was an apostle of formal values, pressing the American public to understand paintings not in terms of narrative and representation but in terms of the power of color and composition to provoke feeling and meaning... the more of Barnes you read, the more you will discover a formalism of rare power - an exploration of the many ways in which formal values reflect and refract the full range of human values."
Kessler writes: "There are many good reasons why breaking the Barnes trust was a bad idea... And while a case can be made that this type of installation is a cultural artifact worth preserving, there are other ways, short of wholesale preservation, to document it. The bottom line is I LOVED the new Barnes... all of [the] criticisms come to nothing when confronted with the art - it will make you weep with joy! They have 69 Cézannes—more than in all the museums in Paris... And they have Matisse's Joy of Life which, along with Picasso's Demoiselles D’Avignon, is one of the landmarks of twentieth-century art. And now Joy of Life is in its own alcove instead of hanging in a stairway as in the old Barnes... And it absolutely glows. "
Tyler Green writes about the impending move of Henri Matisse's site-specific painting The Dance to their new building in Philadelphia.
Green cites several sources in depth including Teriade, Dorothy Dudley, and Jack Flam to provide an account of Matisse's thoughts on The Dance and his considerations of how it would be viewed at the original Barnes Foundation building.
Green quotes Matisse from an interview with Dorothy Dudley: "[M]y decoration should not oppress the room, but rather should give more air and space to the pictures to be seen there... I saw that the surface to be decorated was extremely low, formed like a band. Therefore all my art, all my efforts consisted in changing apparently the proportions of this band. I arrived then, through the lines, through the colors, through energetic directions, at giving to the spectator the sensation of flight, of elevation, which makes him forget the actual proportions, much too short to crown the three glass doors - with the idea always of creating the sky for the garden one sees through the doors."
Jack Flam discusses the implications of Cézanne's "de-eroticized" approach to the figure in The Large Bathers (1906), part of the upcoming exhibition Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on view from June 20, 2012 - September 3, 2012.
Flam writes that "...Cézanne’s lack of finish created an extraordinarily suggestive spatial openness, one that redefined the esthetics and structure of painting, as well as what was permissible in the representation of the human figure. We can also perceive the discontinuities in Cézanne’s paintings as being important factors in their spiritual implications. If the solid forms in his paintings seem to be on the verge of dissolution and the empty spaces on the verge of becoming solidified, they reflect Cézanne’s intuitive understanding of the interchangeability of matter and energy and his intense awareness of the metaphysical void that underlies what we can know of the natural world."
Leslie Anderson blogs about Paul Gauguin's Still Life with Profile of Laval, known as a Freundschaftsbild, a picture exchanged between artists to "demonstrate friendship and, often, artistic allegiance."
Anderson cites "evidence that van Gogh proposed a portrait exchange to foster the Gemeinschaft (sense of community) between himself and fellow artists Gauguin, Laval, and Émile Bernard... These portraits, which are rendered in new artistic idioms, announce the painters’ collective denial of naturalism and simultaneous entrée into the international Symbolist movement."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.