This week, as I was driving up my driveway, I smelled the sweet smell of jasmine permeating the air and I thought to myself, “Here it is! Spring is coming!” For us Persians, Spring has a cultural significance since the first day of spring marks our new year.
So what a better way to ring in the new year but to head out for more adventure for the week. On Thursday afternoon, I was invited to view the Broad Art Foundation in Santa Monica. Eli and Edythe Broad are two of the foremost philanthropists who have been collecting contemporary art for decades. The Broads established their foundation in 1984 as a way to keep these works in the public domain and now this extensive collection is cited to be of the best in the world. So you can imagine how amazing it was for me walk through the art on display on the different levels of the foundation building.
But my week didn’t stop there. This weekend LACMA hosted a Persian New Year Celebration in collaboration with the Farhang Foundation. Hundreds of fellow Iranians were strolling in the courtyard, viewing the traditional Nowruz table decorations, watching traditional folkloric Persian dance, or listening to a free concert from the popular Dang Show group. (I will be writing a review of their work soon) I even had the chance to sneak a look at the Firooz Zahedi photographs of Elizabeth Taylor visiting Iran in the museum gallery. These photographs were truly stunning and no matter if Ms. Taylor is hiding behind a chador, you can still spot those violet eyes anywhere!
Our final stop for the day was the dinner held for Hammer Museum Circle members at the studio of talented artist, Elliott Hundley. It is a real privilege to be able to visit the work and living space of artists and this one was no exception. Huge collages and artwork in various stages of development hung on the walls and the artist himself chatted and mingled with his guests. After dinner was served, we walked over to another artist space (Llyn Foulkes) where we not only saw his artwork but got the treat of hearing him play a few songs on his very eccentric and absolutely whimsical musical machine. I have to say, I thought I was dreaming the night away.
And by 10pm, when we finally came home, I was once again greeted by my jasmine blossoms. Spring is here in full bloom! Happy New Year to all!
One of the highlights of my stay in NY was my quick visit to Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation. (It was only an hour train ride out of Manhattan’s express line and a quick 25 minute taxi ride to the Foundation). I had recently watched the documentary—The Art of the Steal—which I highly recommend to art lovers. Without giving too much of the plot away, Barnes Foundation’s spectacular art collection will be moved to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in a year. I felt that it was my last chance to this world renown collection the way Albert Barnes had wanted his viewers to see it—in his home in the middle of a suburb, with modern masterpieces all stacked up on the walls of the various rooms.
It is nothing short of unbelievable! The Barnes Foundation houses one of the finest collections of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings in the WORLD, including an extraordinary number of masterpieces by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (181), Paul Cézanne (69), and Henri Matisse (59). The collection also includes important works by Pablo Picasso (46), Chaim Soutine (21), Henri Rousseau (18), Amedeo Modigliani (16), Edgar Degas (11), Vincent van Gogh (7), Georges Seurat (6), Edouard Manet (4), and Claude Monet (4). You can just imagine my overwhelming reaction to seeing the most beautiful works of art in one room—even on one wall! And the mastermind of this collection was one man’s exemplary vision—Albert Barnes.
What is so fascinating about the arrangement of the “wall ensembles” is that it is in keeping with Barnes’ idea of illustrating the visual, spatial, color traditions of various artists and times on one wall. The paintings don’t have titles or any writings below them since Barnes felt that it would distract the viewer from seeing the art directly. The effect is the viewers directly perceiving the shapes and forms without curatorial analysis.
Barnes was a true genius and collector. At a time when African Art was deemed as primitive and not so attractive, he collected vigorously and has arranged the sculptures in conjunction with Picasso’s and Modigliani’s works to show the apparent similarities in line and form. It was hard to pull myself away and leave this exhibit for my afternoon appointment in NY, but for all of you who visit Philadelphia, NY, or Washington, this is a must see destination.