Art heritage associated with Belarus in the museums of the world

Museums  —  Barnes Foundation (USA,  Philadelphia)


The Barnes Foundation is an art school and art gallery-museum, founded in 1922 by Albert Coombs Barnes, an American inventor and collector. The gallery is currently located in downtown Philadelphia, adjacent to the Rodin Museum.

The Barnes Foundation is one of the largest collections of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. It has more than 2.5 thousand exhibits, incl. 800 paintings. The collection contains 181 works by Auguste Renoir, 69 paintings by Paul Cézanne, 59 paintings by Matisse, 46 works by Pablo Picasso, 21 - Chaim Soutine, 18 - Henri Rousseau, 16 - Amedeo Modigliani, 11 - Edgar Degas, 7 - Van Gogh, 6 - Seurat , as well as numerous paintings by other painters, including Chirico, Rubens, Titian, Paul Gauguin, El Greco, Francisco Goya, Edouard Manet, Jean Hugo, Claude Monet, Maurice Utrillo, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Maurice Prendergast. In addition, the museum contains items of African art, art of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, decorative art items from Europe and America.

A feature of the collection of this gallery is the arrangement of canvases in the exhibition in the form of "wall ensembles", when works of different periods, geographical regions and styles are deliberately placed on one wall for the purpose of comparison and research, as Barnes himself imagined.

Since 1912, under the direction of William Glackens, Barnes began to collect his collection of paintings. The first paintings were "The Postman" by Van Gogh and "Woman with a Cigarette" by Picasso, then the canvases of the Impressionists were added to them. Listening to the advice of friends and his own taste, he bought 60 paintings by then little-known Chaim Soutine for only $ 50 per painting. It was Barnes who "discovered" Amedeo Modigliani.

In 1922, Barnes founded his Foundation, whose purpose was to educate in the field of art, as opposed to traditional museum activities. The gallery was originally located in the residential area of ​​Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia. Access to the collection was severely restricted, with only a small portion of the collection open to the public, and Barnes' personal permission was required. Barnes forbade making color reproductions of most paintings. This limitation remained in effect until the late 90s. As a result, a huge number of painting masterpieces of the beginning of the century were practically excluded from the cultural circulation. The paintings and the entire collection as a whole had to remain in the same form in which they were when the Foundation was founded. None of the items in the collection could be moved, sold or exhibited elsewhere.

Limited access and a ban on publications led the Foundation to virtual bankruptcy. In a desperate attempt to make ends meet, the Foundation, in violation of the rules, organized a world tour to show part of the collection in Washington, Tokyo, Paris and Toronto, but this provided only temporary relief. It took several more lawsuits for the Foundation's paintings to finally move to a new building in downtown Philadelphia, which opened to the public in May 2012. The Barnes Foundation paintings have become part of world culture again, albeit against the wishes of an eccentric collector.

The architects and designers of the new building have taken great care of Barnes's legacy. Inside the museum building, the original rooms have been recreated, all the paintings are hung in the same way as in the old collector's estate. Barnes posted pictures according to one principle known to him. Paintings of the 15th century could coexist with the avant-garde paintings of Matisse, sometimes the paintings combined color, sometimes geometric dimensions. Why the paintings are hung like this and not otherwise is a favorite topic of museum guides and art critics.


Material preparation  —  Tatiana Bembel,  17 December 2021.