05 March 2017

If you click on “Philly” on the last post you get “currently not on view.”  I can verify that I became aware of the existence of The Fatal Temple during a few short periods of public display after it languished in storage for years.  Apparently Arshile Gorky is wrong to think it is an important work of art, and the Philly brain trust knows better. It is an oil and not a light-sensitive work on paper. Arensberg’s donation of The Poet and His Muse from 1925 is also rarely exhibited, although this period and work is generally considered less significant than Fatal Temple there’s still a lot of people who’d like to see it.  Max Ernst’s seashell from 1928, the primary phase of frottage since its invention three years earlier, from Arensberg. They also have a good little Rouault collection from various sources but they generally don’t see the light of day, none at the moment.

Collectors know this is an historically important painting, but Philly hasn’t grasped it yet and only shows it once in a while:

Peter Doig, Figure in Mountain Landscape II, 1998-9

Look at all the redundancy in the modern galleries before you tell me about space restrictions. The expansion in three years will make room for more head-scratchers.  Expanding could have been a way to respect the John G. Johnson's estate's wish for keeping its collection together (once the courts rule the museum's way there's no looking back), and do the same for Arensberg, instead they keep major Arensberg gifts in storage and hang Johnson's Veroneses and Titians above eye level.  Without Arensberg and Johnson it's a quaint regional museum.

Their Demuth and Sargent watercolors are up now though.

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