Magazine article Sculpture

The Barnes Foundation

Magazine article Sculpture

The Barnes Foundation

Article excerpt

Philadelphia

Strength and Splendor Ellen Harvey

Through January 4, 2016

Past meets present in these two concurrent exhibitions. "Strength and Splendor" offers highlights from the Musée le Secq des Tournelles, an encyclopedic collection of wrought iron objects assembled in the 19th century by Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq Destournelles, the celebrated photographer of French architectural monuments, and his son Henri. Far from being out of place at the Barnes, these 150 masterworks of decorative craftsmanship from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century reinforce one of Albert Barnes's most intriguing collections-887 pieces of European and American metalwork, which he installed as an integral part of his arrangements of old master and modern paintings. Stripped of their functional mandate, these small sculptures (everything from door knockers, garden implements, and keyhole escutcheons to locks, bas reliefs, strongboxes, surgical tools, and jewelry) created by anonymous craftsmen "as authentic" in their artistry as "Titian, Renoir, or Cézanne," reveal considerable formal and conceptual wit, as well as the unexpected versatility of iron as it morphs from weighty heftto an impossibly fragile delicacy at odds with industrial usage. …

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