In March I raised questions about whether the Barnes Foundation should have moved Henri Matisse’s apparently site-specific mural The Dance (1932-33). The Barnes not only refused to answer questions about its moving of The Dance, it refused to reply to emails. Instead, the Barnes left an independent art historian who has researched the Barnes’s Matisse collection to answer questions about The Dance.
I’ve now seen the new Barnes installation of The Dance for myself, and it’s clear to me that the Barnes erred. Furthermore, as you can see at right, the Barnes made a strange decision not to duplicate the molding into which The Dance was ’slotted’ in Merion. [There's a detail in the jump.] The result is an installation that looks partial, accidental and slapdash. The ‘empty’ spot on either side of The Dance is distracting and detracts from the artwork.
But when your apparent primary goal is to be a tourist attraction, maybe you think none of this matters.
Related: Jay Raymond noticed this too.
This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features three distinguished critics discussing the new Barnes Foundation: the LAT’s Christopher Knight, WSJ contributor Tom Freudenheim (who agrees that the Barnes badly bungled The Dance) and Bloomberg’s James Russell. To download or subscribe to The Modern Art Notes Podcast via iTunes, click here. To download the program directly, click here. To subscribe to The MAN Podcast’s RSS feed, click here.