Philadelphia Realises Arts and Culture Vision
2012 may signal the end of the Mayan calendar but it is all about the future in the city of brotherly love as Philadelphia unveils a host of exciting attractions and exhibitions including the long-awaited opening of the Barnes Foundation.
Philadelphia is fast becoming the art and culture capital of the USA with its Museum of Art and the soon to be re-opened Rodin Museum, which collectively hold the world’s finest collections of art, including the largest collection of Renoirs outside of Paris and more Cézanne’s than all the Parisian museums put together.
The Barnes Foundation has long been a hidden treasure of art, and revered for its extensive and impressive collections of world-renowned Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern Art collections. Between 1912 and 1951 Dr. Albert C. Barnes acquired works of art from some of the most ‘daring artists’ of the time – Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Chaim Soutine and Vincent Van Gogh. His mission was to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine arts” through his innovative vision.
In 1922 the Foundation was established, crowned by Matisse’s mural The Dance in 1933, for his extensive collection of art and also educational programmes. Unlike a traditional gallery, organised chronologically or by genre, the Foundation arranged ‘ensembles’ or distinctive wall compositions, organised according to formal principles of light, colour, line and space. Integrated with art and craft and objects from across cultures and periods, Barnes sought to demonstrate to his students’ fluidity in style and expression through art.
The first major addition to the Parkway in over sixty years, the exciting new building opened on the 19th May 2012 has finally presented the collection, in a more accessible and welcoming location.
The ‘Gallery in a Garden’ design offers 12,000 square feet of exhibition space that replicates the scale, proportion and configuration of the original galleries in Merion Pennsylvania, whilst maintaining its intimate character. The design proposes a series of distinct outdoor areas, passing through public gardens and entry atrium to provide a highly personal and contemplative experience. The galleries will include a classroom on each floor and 160-seat auditorium to facilitate the educational mission. In addition, vastly improved lighting will enable visitors to see the art more clearly.
In addition a 5,000-square-foot Special Exhibitions Gallery will be equipped with 16-foot-high ceilings that can accommodate large-scale art installations. The building also will include a 50-seat café with a courtyard for outdoor dining and a gift shop.
To complement the new arrival on the Parkway the historic Rodin Museum and Gardens, home to the most comprehensive collection of the artist’s work outside of Paris, has spent three years rejuvenating and renovating its gardens and exterior building. As part of a $20.9 million investment to revitalize the Parkway, the result will be a ‘nestling effect’ as the Rodin Museum’s garden will sit within the garden of the block and is fully visible and accessible from the Parkway. The rejuvenated museum and gardens will keep the spirit of its original design but will also reunify the 2100 block of the Parkway making it a fluid extension from the Barnes Foundation gardens.
Crowning the head of the Parkway at the top of Fairmont, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States containing a collection of more than 225,000 works of art that span two millennia and six continents. The museum is widely regarded for its collections of Impressionist and Post- Impressionist art, with major defining works by Renoir and Cézanne, including Cézanne’s final work, the monumental Large Bathers (1906).
From February 1 to May 6, 2012 the ‘Van Gogh Up Close’ exhibition will explore Van Gogh’s deep immersion into nature and his passion to engage the viewer with the strength of the emotions he experienced within it. Presenting the artist’s most daring and innovative works that dramatically altered the course of modern painting with its ‘close ups’, bringing features into the extreme foreground of the composition and highlighting their importance in ways that are entirely unexpected.
The exhibit showcases a rare collection of more than 40 landscapes and still lives, including major loans from museum and private collections in Europe, North America and Japan, which have not been seen together and identified as key pieces in understanding Van Gogh’s artistic achievement. It will be showcased only in the United States at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before travelling to the National Gallery in Canada, Ottawa – its only Canadian venue – in summer 2012.
From June 20 to September 3 the Philadelphia Museum of Art will bring together for the first time, masterpieces by some of modern art’s giants. The exhibition ‘Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia’ will place the original paintings of these masters in dialogue with each other as they explore the idea of an earthly paradise. Gaugin’s mural-scale masterpiece Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, is a response to the classical theme of a simple and idyllic harmony on earth – an enduring subject for many poets, playwrights and artists from the Renaissance through to present day.
Cézanne’s most significant effort to reconcile his vision of modern painting with French classical art is best exemplified by The Large Bathers. The monumental composition was exhibited for the first time at the Salon d’Automne in Paris 1907 and had an immediate and profound effect on young talented painters such as Picasso and Matisse. It is Matisse’s most creative response that completes the collection. Taking a decade to complete, Bathers By The River not only responds to Cézanne’s Bathers By The River but also strongly echoes Gaughin’s Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
Philadelphia’s passion for the arts and culture scene is evident through its commitment and drive from organisations, events, the artists and the audiences. The city can claim more arts and culture groups than Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C and boasts an eclectic and colourful calendar of activity.
For further information on arts and cultural attractions in Philadelphia visit www.philadelphiaUSA.travel