Tweet this: Strength and Splendor and Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting – two new exhibitions responding to Barnes’s metalwork collection. Opens Sept. 19.
Philadelphia PA, June 17, 2015 – The Barnes Foundation presents two concurrent exhibitions, Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, featuring masterworks from the world’s most important collection of wrought iron, and Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting, a site-specific installation by artist Ellen Harvey (b. 1967) commissioned by the Barnes Foundation. Metal Painting engages with Dr. Albert C. Barnes’s iconoclastic placement of his extensive wrought iron holdings alongside his collection of paintings by old and modern masters, such as Paul Cézanne, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, William Glackens, El Greco, Frans Hals, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Both exhibitions will be on view in the Barnes Foundation’s Aileen and Brian Roberts Gallery from September 19, 2015 through January 4, 2016.
Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles presents approximately 150 magnificent wrought iron objects—including door knockers, jewelry, escutcheons, locks and keys, plaques, signs, strongboxes, and tools—that combine technological innovation with virtuoso artistry from the comprehensive holdings of the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles in Rouen, France. The exhibition complements the 887 pieces of European and American wrought iron that punctuate the Barnes Foundation’s signature wall arrangements of old master and modern paintings, and offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience a collection that Dr. Barnes likely knew and visited. This is the first time that the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles has sent an exhibition of its celebrated masterworks to the United States.
Dr. Barnes underscored the formal affinities that the wrought iron in his collection shared with the “motives and arabesques” in the paintings. Often, he combined disparate objects—shoe buckles and door hinges, ladles and hasps—to create new forms. In a 1942 letter to the American artist Stuart Davis, Barnes noted that the anonymous craftsman of such functional items was “just as authentic an artist as a Titian, Renoir, or Cézanne.”
Ranging in date from the Middle Ages to the early 20th-century, the objects from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles’s collection reveal iron as unexpectedly versatile, with its capacity to convey both masculine heft and an impossibly fragile delicacy that is hard to square with its industrial image. Objects ennobled with silver and gold inlays show iron as more than base metal. There are locks that represent their own function, for example, such as one with a built-in faithful guard dog and one with spring-loaded trap ready to catch a lock-pick. Others show a more whimsical side: an 18th-century sign in the shape of a greyhound that looks like something Calder might have made two centuries later, and a bat-shaped light.
Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen will be accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay on Dr. Barnes’s practice of collecting metalwork, one on the collection at the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, short essays on groups of works, and an illustrated glossary of technical terms.
Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting
The Barnes Foundation’s fourth visual arts commission of 2015, Metal Painting is composed of 887 oil paintings on magnetized panels of varying sizes installed as a large-scale collage on a steel wall. Harvey has painted each piece of metalwork in the Barnes collection as a metallic silhouette. Invoking Barnes’s celebration of the wrought iron collection for its formal values, she distills the essence of these objects, emphasizing their shapes.
Both exhibitions are curated by Judith F. Dolkart, the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, and former Deputy Director of Art and Archival Collections and Gund Family Chief Curator at the Barnes Foundation. Anne-Charlotte Cathelineau, curator in charge of the objets d’art at the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, selected the objects included in Strength and Splendor and authored the catalogue’s essay on the holdings in Rouen, as well as several entries on individual objects.
“When Dr. Barnes first installed his now iconic wrought iron collection on the gallery walls, he divorced the objects from their functions and celebrated them for their formal properties—the ways in which they underscored forms in the paintings and other objects” says Dolkart. “With Strength and Splendor, we are able to re-contextualize the magnificent objects of Le Secq Destournelles collection. Ellen Harvey’s Metal Painting recombines the forms of the wrought iron in the Barnes collection, creating a new kind of ensemble or arrangement.”
Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen is sponsored by
The contributing sponsor is
With generous funding from the William Penn Foundation.
This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional support for Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen is provided by the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund.
Support for Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting is also provided by John H. McFadden and Lisa D. Kabnick.
About the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen
Assembled in the 19th century by Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq Destournelles (1818–1882), the celebrated photographer of French architectural monuments, and his son Henri (1854–1925), the Le Secq collection was shown to great acclaim at the Exposition Universelle in 1900 and installed until the 1920s at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In the early 1920s, Le Secq acquired the deconsecrated church of Saint-Laurent in Rouen, where he lived and arranged his extensive collection of European and Middle Eastern objects by type, in distinctive, often symmetrical, wall arrangements and in custom-made vitrines. Dr. Barnes, who traveled frequently to France as he built his collection, is believed to have visited Rouen to see this impressive holding.
About Ellen Harvey
Ellen Harvey was born in the United Kingdom and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Harvey’s oeuvre explores the traditions of the history of art and confounds the expectations of the viewer in institutional contexts. She was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program and the PS1 National Studio Program. She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally and was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Solo exhibitions include The Unloved at the Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium; The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington DC at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Nudist Museum at the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; Ruins are More Beautiful at the Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland; Mirror at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: PAFA, Philadelphia, PA; and A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York.
Ellen has completed numerous commissions, including Arcadia for the opening exhibition of the Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK and permanent installations for New York City Percent For Art, New York; Arts in Transit, the Chicago Transit Authority; the Flemish National Architect; and for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture Program, among others. Her book, The New York Beautification Project, was published by Gregory R. Miller & Co. (2005) and she has been the subject of several books: Ellen Harvey: Mirror published by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: PAFA (2006); Ellen Harvey: The Unloved published by Hannibal Publishing (2014); and Ellen Harvey: Museum of Failure, which will be published by Gregory R. Miller & Co. in Summer 2015.
About the Curator
Judith Dolkart is the Mary Stripp & R. Crosby Kemper Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, MA. Previously, she served as Deputy Director of Art and Archival Collections and Gund Family Chief Curator at the Barnes Foundation and Associate Curator of European Art at the Brooklyn Museum.
An expert on the art and culture of 19th-century France, Dolkart’s work has extended to artists as diverse as Frank Stella, William Glackens, Ellsworth Kelly, and the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare. A published scholar, she has also shared her expertise as a college and university lecturer. She graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1989 and received an A.B. in fine arts in 1993 from Harvard-Radcliffe College, where she examined the work of Frank Stella for her thesis. In 1997, she earned an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. During her 2013 fellowship at the Center for Curatorial Leadership, Dolkart was mentored by the director of the Harvard Art Museums and had a week-long residency with the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the history of art at the University of Pennsylvania.
About the Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation (barnesfoundation.org) was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles; American paintings and decorative arts; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged in ensembles structured according to light, line, color, and space - principles that founder Dr. Albert C. Barnes called "the universal language of art.” The Barnes Foundation’s Art and Aesthetics programs, including courses, workshops, tours, First Fridays, Young Professionals Nights, tastings, and family programs, engage diverse audiences. These programs, held at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the Foundation’s mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Barnes Foundation is open Wednesday – Monday, 10am – 5pm, and also 6pm – 9pm every First Friday and select Friday evenings. Tickets can easily be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215-278-7200. For tips and assistance planning your visit, please visit our website.
The Barnes Arboretum, at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes 40 state champion trees, a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias, ferns, medicinal plants, hosta and magnolias. The Horticulture school at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes. Horticulture workshops and lectures are also offered regularly. The Arboretum is open Friday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm, from May 1 – November 1. Tickets can easily be purchased on-site, online, or by calling
For more information
Jan Rothschild, Senior Vice President for Communications,
Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications, Barnes Foundation
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