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Petition Filed Seeking to Reopen Barnes Art Case

The Friends of the Barnes Foundation group is mounting a last-ditch effort to try to reverse the fate of one of the most valuable private art collections ever assembled.  Dr. Albert Barnes

The late Dr. Albert Barnes gathered together unmatched works of post-impressionist art, including paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Monet and other masters.  It has not only been widely recognized as the greatest collection of its kind, but it's been valued at more than 25 billion dollars.

Dr. Barnes created a very detailed Trust to maintain the collection in a private facility apart from the commercial art "elite," which he despised.  Given the extraordinary value of the collection -- both monetarily and artistically -- perhaps it should be no surprise that the art elite of Philadelphia have done everything they can to get their hands on the collection.

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The Barnes Art Collection Controversy, Part II

Dr. Albert Barnes built one of the most impressive art collections ever owned by a private individual.Dr. Albert Barnes  Its value was estimated to be more than 25 billion dollars.  The controversy surrounding the collection decades after Dr. Barnes died rocked the art world. 

This is the second installment of a two-part series covering the controversy.  You can read Part I here to learn how Dr. Barnes' detailed wishes to safeguard the collection in a building he chose, as expressed in his trust document, were completely thwarted by Philadelphia's art "elite", whom Dr. Barnes despised until he unexpectedly died in 1951.

Many current and former students and teachers of the Barnes Foundation, along with neighbors and the local township and county governments, banded together to try to protect Dr. Barnes' vision.  They formed the Friends of the Barnes Foundation (which has a very informative website). 

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The Barnes Art Collection Controversy, Part I

The powerful story surrounding the legacy of Dr. Albert C. Barnes and his historic art collection was captured in a documentary released on DVD last week, called The Art of the Steal.Matisse

While this isn't the typical way we track down stories, it certainly was highly entertaining.  The Art of the Steal is a must-watch; it's not only moving and compelling, it is thoroughly enjoyable.

So who was Dr. Albert Barnes?  Raised in a Philadelphia working-class family, he found extraordinary wealth by inventing a new antiseptic medicine to treat and prevent venereal diseases at the start of the 20th Century.  He used his wealth to build what is widely considered to be the greatest collection of post-impressionist art ever assembled.  It includes hundreds of works by masters like Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh . . . and on and on.  The collection has been valued at 25 to 30 billion dollars, at least.

Continue reading "The Barnes Art Collection Controversy, Part I" »