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The Art of the Steal

The Art of the Steal

We're a little late in posting this, but wanted to highlighta couple of points brought up at last week's film screening.  And it’s still timely as the BarnesFoundation opens its new Tod Williams/Billie Tsein building this weekend.  (By the way, here’swhat Paul Goldberger—in one of his first Vanity Fair pieces—had to sayabout the building.)

I’m always amazed at the knowledgeable folks who show up forour screenings.  Not just someone who hasbeen to the building in question or studies some architectural history, butfolks with great in-depth info.  We canalways count on our local Frank Lloyd Wright experts (including Ann Abernathy,deeply involved in the renovation of the Oak Park Studio and author of themasterplan for our own Kailta Humphries Theater) to be here to set usstraight.  And when we showed Eames: The Architect and the Painterlast month, we had a gentleman who had worked with Charles Eames for a decadein his role at Herman Miller in the audience. The presence of these people certainly makes for a more interesting post-filmdiscussion!

And last week was no exception.  We had several Philadelphia natives in theroom—all had seen the collection in its original Paul Phillipe Cret-designedgalleries, and one had lived in the neighborhood and seen the chaos that openingthe building to the public had caused. Mixed feelings were the order of the evening.  Most of us wished that somehow the collectioncould have stayed in its original unusual locale, but understood the rationalefor moving it to make it more accessible.

The discussion was wide-ranging—whether art is a private possessionor a public treasure, the political and legal wrangling that accompanied themove, and an impassioned statement by one audience member that by moving thecollection from its original surroundings fundamentally changes the characterof the collection itself.  (Could haveled to an interesting discussion with architecture preservation parallels butwe ran out of time.)

It was invigorating… as these discussions always are.  We’re working to nail down the titles of ourfilms for the summer, but mark the second Wednesday of every month on yourcalendar.  You’ll want to be here at theCenter. The popcorn is on us.

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