” A Pale Green Mermaid Blog “
Albert C. Barnes was an interesting and unusual person. How can I tell when I never met Mr. Barnes? Because he left behind at his estate a record of his heart and mind put together with class and grace and a respect for the history of art and a rebellion against the established art community.
I visited his estate many times while it existed in Merion, Pennsylvania a suburb outside of Philadelphia, like the Wharton Esherick residence and Fonthill ( both homes of artists that were left for the public to experience), the encounter with an artist’s home created out their spirit and based on their ideas about art and life takes you into another world where the visitor can see and learn on many levels.
Its removal from Merion was regrettable and against Mr. Barnes wishes, for what was lost is his intricate sense of combinations and connections between high art and low art and art from different time periods.
When you walked inside there was a sense of time standing still, also you never felt that you could not linger in front of any wall filled with his personal choices. You could see places where something was put up then moved, it was as if he was still there around the corner, watching you enjoy his presentations.
To me he was saying yeah this is a great painting but it is just a painting and see how well it goes with this iron work or sculpture ?it was a democratization of art, a statement against the glorification of art and codification of art that happens in many museums. Also it was eye level and below or just above so the works were wholly accessible.
Once again I realize that I lived through a golden age of museums ! When you could go to the Barnes foundation and see all manner of impressionistic painting (one of my interests at the time) or to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and pick up a professionally printed copy of a painting on heavy paper for 25 or 30 cents!
So this post is about thanking Mr Barnes, for that experience and to tell him that although his work has been removed and taken down from the walls of his residence—his ideas and beliefs about art will live on forever in my mind and in books and pieces written by others, about what you created for the world.
Thank you, Mr. Barnes and all those who sought to keep his estate intact.
I will miss that type of experience as everything unique tends to be generalized homogenized…..but WAIT we can all create something as Mr. Barnes did, whether big or small that fights against the wall of homogeny that the global market inevitably produces by reducing everything to what everyone will like, look at the poor tomato– I rest my case.
So, in closing I ask everyone across the globe to make something that you can leave behind for posterity so that in the future someone will write or think or speak about you and the loss of your work.
Wharton Esherick Studio
Location:Doylestown, PennsylvaniaCoordinates:40.321158°N 75.122902°WCoordinates: 40.321158°N 75.122902°WBuilt:1908Architect:Dr. Henry C. MercerArchitectural style:Mixed (more Than 2 Styles From Different Periods)Governing body:PrivatePart of:Fonthill, Mercer Museum, and Moravian Pottery and Tile Works (#85002366)NRHP Reference#:72001094Significant datesAdded to NRHP:June 1, 1972Designated NHLDCP:February 4, 1985[2