Dr. Barnes' Art of Painting

Paul Gauguin, Mr. Loulou (Louis Le Ray), 1890, oil on canvas, 21 3/4 x 18 1/4 in
Paul Gauguin, Mr. Loulou (Louis Le Ray), 1890, oil on canvas, 21 3/4 x 18 1/4 inches (© 2012 The Barnes Foundation)

On the occasion of the opening of the new Barnes Foundation musuem in Philadelphia, Jed Perl re-reads The Art of Painting and The Art of Renoir by Dr. Albert C. Barnes.

Both books, Perl writes "have a blunt, evangelical force; they’re textbooks dedicated to transcendent values, written at a time when Barnes, a friend and disciple of John Dewey, believed that an appreciation for art could really change a person’s life... Barnes was an apostle of formal values, pressing the American public to understand paintings not in terms of narrative and representation but in terms of the power of color and composition to provoke feeling and meaning... the more of Barnes you read, the more you will discover a formalism of rare power - an exploration of the many ways in which formal values reflect and refract the full range of human values."