Conversation starters, responses, and follow-up discussion about what you’ve read, seen, and heard. See Writing Prompts for how to begin.

Does it really matter?

Both Peter Schjeldah, the author of “Moving Pictures” and Martin Filler, the author of “Victory!” seem to agree with the relocation of the Barnes Collection. Although, both very thoroughly describe the new location, neither delve into the legal/political obstacles faced by the state in having the collection moved.

  • Why have the authors decided to leave this information out?Would the readers of these articles view the situation differently if presented with such information or would it not make a difference?

Although it is clear that Barnes’ will was violated by having the collection moved from its original home in Merion county to Philadelphia’s museum mile, both authors argue that strict stipulations have preserved Barnes’ aesthetic as much as possible. They also mention that the collection is still being used for educational purposes as was desired by Barnes.

  • Could one argue that although the collection was moved, Barnes’ wishes are still being respected?
  • To what extent is it significant that the collection has been relocated if the experience has been preserved?

Was it an “Aesthetic Crime”?

“Moving Pictures – The Barnes Foundation’s New Home” By Peter Schjeldahl

(Questions 1 and 2)

First, let’s take into account the major and minor changes that have been brought forth by the move of the Barnes collection to its new home:

  1. Minor decorative differences
  2. Major technological differences in combining natural and automatic lighting
  3. The repositioning of “The Joy of Life” by Matisse from its original place in the collection to opposite “a great mural of dancing and tumbling nudes that Barnes commissioned from Matisse in 1929”.

Based on these differences let us now look at the effect it has on the original intent of Barnes behind the presentation of the collection:

  1. Minor decorative difference: non-existent
  2. Major technological differences in combining natural and automatic lighting: The lighting in the museum changes the artwork slightly in terms of hues and shades of a specific color but allows for better visibility of the artworks.
  3. The repositioning of “The Joy of Life” by Matisse: Although the repositioning would not have been consented by Barnes, the author notes that the piece seems less “confusing”, more understandable, and its aesthetic geniuses more recognizable and admirable.

It is stated clearly that there have been no major changes to the way the artworks are presented from its earlier home. It is also noted by the author that the integrity of the collection has survived “magnificently”. Now the question is whether it justifies the blatant disregard of Barnes wishes, legally specified in his will, and the move to the Philadelphia Museum?

Is it or is it not an “aesthetic crime”?

“Victory!” by Martin Filler (Question 3) The major preposition presented by the author is the tremendous effort it took to build the building which later house the Barnes collection. The $150 million dollar spendature that the building required and the architectural mounts the building had to surpass can lead us to question the ulterior motive of the move. Although it was political in the sense to make the city of Philadelphia the center of tourist attraction, the money could have been spent to renovate the original location in Merion where the collection was housed. Or, in your opinions, has the collection finally received a deserving location to showcase its simplicity and complexity all in one?


Bias, Dissolution of Personal Wish, and An Odd Question of rights

1.Did the author of “Moving Pictures” fail to show both sides of the argument? The author mentioned his previous article on this matter to show that his opinion was different before he saw the new home of Barnes’ collection which seems like an attempt to convince the reader or himself that he is not biased and tried to see both sides. But he clearly ignores Barnes’ reasons for keeping the paintings strictly for educational purposes in this article and simply suggested his wishes were conserved in better condition.

2.Peter Schjeldahl, author of “Moving Pictures”, suggested that Barnes developed hatred for “Main Line oligarchy and nearly all credentialed art authorities”. He argued that this could be the main reason why Barnes didn’t want to “share” his collection by implying that Barnes’ view that art should be an experience for the viewer, was conserved in the new museum with minor changes. Would the author support any dissolution of personal wish and property if it is argued that the owner’s reason for not sharing the property is hatred for the other party or an institution?

3. “Victory!” by Martin Filler is shamelessly supportive of the move of the Barnes’ private collection and asserts that the intervention to move the collection against the wish of its owner is a civic attempt to rescue a “shared inheritance”. That raises a question: how can Martin Filler declare that a collection of paintings, sold without force and bought with one person’s fortune, is the property of everybody against the will of the person who actually paid for it?