Philadelphia, the city that gave us Poor Richard, cheese-steak sandwiches and the American Constitution, just opened a new treasure: the Barnes Foundation, one of the premier privately assembled collections of painting in the U.S. with more dreamy Renoirs and searching Cézannes than in the whole of France.
Its arrival in May halfway between the landmark City Hall and Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Parkway — Philly’s Champs Élysées — gives visitors a chance to see what was once an almost secret stash of great art.
The catalog is astounding, even apart from Renoirs and Cézannes.
…all previously hard to access, thanks in part to the collection’s former home in Merion, PA, a 45-minute bus ride from downtown. The foundation rarely lent works to other museums, prohibited reproductions and restricted visitation.
Curmudgeonly founder Albert C. Barnes, a medical doctor, chemist and self-made millionaire with a boulder-size chip on his shoulder, once called Philadelphia “a depressing intellectual slum.” He started buying art in the early part of the 20th century and conceived of his collection as an educational institution, not a gathering place for high-society “Sunday” dabblers in art.
It took more than 50 years to give the collection a new home that is open to the public. Not everyone loves it.
“It wasn’t about creating a scale model of the city it was about creating the noise of city” – artist, Chris Burden
Metropolis II is an intense and complex kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city.
Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks.
Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”
A short doc about a kinetic sculpture that took four years to build. We had the honor of spending three days in Chris Burden’s studio filming this sculpture before it was moved to the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) where it is being reinstalled.
– Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman