Exhibition of Contemporary European Paintings and Sculpture

April 11–May 9, 1923

Photo courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Archives (www.pafa.org)

Following his much-praised show at Galerie Paul Guillaume in Paris and the arrival of dozens of newly acquired works of art for his collection, Albert Barnes gave Philadelphia a glimpse of his holdings. In April 1923, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) presented Exhibition of Contemporary European Paintings, a display of 75 contemporary paintings and sculptures from among his latest acquisitions. Barnes was not identified as their owner, but he wrote and signed the introduction to the exhibition catalogue. 

Two years earlier, when American Drawings and Paintings Showing the Later Tendencies in Art, shown at PAFA in 1921, received negative reviews for content critics deemed inappropriate, Barnes was among the exhibition's supporters. Now, in 1923, critics and press found the work he owned even more challenging and decried it as vulgar and, in some cases, not art at all.