An obscure museum in a North Philadelphia basement houses world-class treasures by masters like Tintoretto, Edouard Vuillard, Rembrandt Peale, Georges Rouault and Joseph Epstein. Most remarkable of all, admission is free.
Henri Matisse was one of the three great revolutionary artists (with Picaso and Duchamp) of the early 20th Century; Albert Barnes was a brilliant collector of revolutionary art. They made a great team until Barnes's insufferable personality drove Matisse away, with consequences that still reverberate today.
Curator Michael Taylor has unveiled, for the first time in recent memory, the astonishing range, depth, and quality of the Art Museum's Picasso holdings. But his show falls a few bricks short of an Anne d'Harnoncourt blockbuster.
Who are the best stewards of ancient artifacts— enlightened Western curators whose museums stole the loot long ago, or dictators of Third World lands where the treasures were originally found? James Cuno of the Chicago Art Institute (who believes the former) confronts the Penn Museum (which favors the latter).
“American Stories,” currently at the Met in New York, reveals an indebtedness to Philadelphia's artistic patrimony. Almost the whole show could have been assembled from Philadelphia holdings or works by Philadelphia artists. So why is the Art Museum so modest about its contributions?
The Art Museum recently raised its admission fees, a fund-raising model that is strictly 20th-Century. Then it hired as its new director Timothy Rub, a successful advocate of the 21st-Century model: free admission. Does the Art Museum's left hand know what its right hand is doing?
There's no place like Venice to jump-start your romantic gene. But before you move there, remember: The plumbing stinks. And try schlepping groceries, or hauling a suitcase, or finding a doctor or a decent restaurant or a neighbor who's under 50.
In the Internet age, what will happen to fact-based journalism as daily newspapers fold? Contrary to what you hear from print journalists, the quality of coverage could improve. Which would you prefer: The Inquirer, or a Philadelphia edition of the New York Times?
Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan and Sam Spade are all legendary but fictitious private eyes. But Edgar Allan Poe and Victor Hugo were inspired by a real Philadelphia gumshoe of literary dimensions, as I discovered behind the door of the Vidocq Society in Center City.
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the 800-pound gorilla is out of the cage. The 'C' word— class— is the one word in the American lexicon that's even better hidden in polite public discourse than race. And it has little to do with money.