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on the 12-acre arboretum that Barnes and his wife, Laura, purchased on North Latch’s Lane in Merion. Completed in 1925, the gallery houses the massive collection installed by Barnes to illustrate all the universal elements and traditions he felt were evident in all art forms. Art classes were conducted in the galleries, in front of the art, as they are today. In July 1951, Barnes was tragically killed in an automobile accident. He was 78.


“LIVING WITH AND STUDYING GOOD PAINTINGS OFFERS GREATER INTEREST, VARIETY AND SATISFACTION THAN ANY OTHER PLEASURE KNOWN TO MAN.”


— Dr. Albert C. Barnes Touring the galleries with Andrew Stewart,


director of marketing and public relations for The Barnes Foundation, he describes Barnes’ method of evaluating art as banishing subjective judgments by using the objective and predictable scientific method. “Barnes focused on art’s universal elements of line, light, color, and space and their relation- ships,” said Stewart. According to Barnes, these elements createdart,whentheirunique combination became richly expressive of common human experience or values. Standing so close to some of the most important


and priceless paintings in the world is an exciting and humbling experience. On onewall is aRenoir hangingnext to aMonetwithaMatisse above, across fromaCézanne. In complete contrast to the stark white walls and straight lines of other art museums, here antique ironkeys anddoorhardware adornthe goldwalls—andtogetherwithantique furniture and pottery of the period, the galleries feel more like a living room than an art gallery. Being a man of medicine, Barnes approached art


through the eyes of a scientist. He hung his art in a very symmetrical and precise manner. In one of his many writings, he emphasized, “Appreciation of works of art requires organized effort and systematic study. Art appreciation can no more be absorbed by aimless wandering in galleries than can surgery be learned by casual visits to a hospital.” With the art hanging at eye-level and so close


together, the viewer is afforded a unique way to compare and analyze the styles of each master. Barnes created a new and unique way of seeing, experiencing, and understanding art. Walking into one room alone, I gazed into the eyes of Van Gogh’s The Postman hanging in the corner of the room, a


18 January 2011 | LIFESTYLE njlifestyleonline.com


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