Friday, January 28, 2011

Barnes burner

  I went on a field trip to the Barnes Foundation and was chided by the  trip's matron for not having done my homework - the homework being to watch The Art of the Steal, a documentary on Philadelphia's relocation of the collection despite the will of the founder, Albert C. Barnes. Currently the collection ( well, half of it ) is on view  in Merion Pennsylvania until it is rehung in central Philadelphia come 2012. The new space will be a power structure along the line of many new Death Stars of recent years (The  De Young in SF, Tate Modern, LA's Getty....). Don't get me wrong, I like modernist monstrosities as much as the next art snob but I was happy to see the art in it's intended home. I was also happy to have seen the art free of any political situation - as one might consider if visiting the full collection in the new hangar, ignorant of the guilt the documentary would no doubt elicit. This allowed for a contemplation of the work on it's own, in it's own space, and of course, how it leads back to me and my take on it.
  The collection is mostly famed for it's impressionism era works, but beyond that it is supported by a kaleidoscope of century-bounding randomness. Tintoretto studies shoulder up with small Picassos, 19th century American folk works, and all kinds of curios ( you might yet have to make that guilt-free trek to the new building as the Barne's online collection search is about as easy to navigate as the meaning behind the groupings ). The thing is, it's the oddball corners that actually support the structure of the entire building. Usually each wall "stars" a big wet misty Cezanne or bloated foggy Renoir fatties in the center while the supporting cast does the real work and holds the ceiling up at the edges. The effect is a kind of vaporous expanse energized by the unruly gangs unified framing.  The tension uses the release and vice versa.
  How does this lead back to me and my take on it? It's this kind of situation that made me want to exhibit art that exploits the energy of a space in unison with surrounding art. I'm organizing a pop-up show called Landing Jam on a Greenpoint top floor landing with work that takes advantage of this tension. Of course the show won't be about my tale any more than the Barnes foundation is. My idea about tension will be released by work that doesn't just address the space it is in so much as a portal out. Maybe the rehoused Barnes art will also demonstrate what art does so well, create an experience beyond the room it is seen in.  

Ugly Art Room presents Landing Jam

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