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Albert Coombs Barnes, one of the most eccentric, controversial figures of the early twentieth-century art world, springs vividly from the pages of Howard Greenfeld's superb biography. The Devil and Dr. Barnes traces the near-mythical journey of a man who was born into poverty, amassed a fortune through the promotion of a popular medicine, and acquired the premier private collection of works by such masters as Renoir, Matisse, CÃ©zanne, and Picasso.
Ostentatiously turning his back on the art establishment, Barnes challenged the aesthetic sensibilities of an uninitiated, often resistant and scoffing, American audience. In particular, he championed Matisse, Soutine, and Modigliani when they were obscure or in difficult straits. Analyzing what he saw as the formal relationships underlying all art, linking the old and the new, Barnes applied these principles in a rigorous course of study offered at his Merion foundation.
Barnes's own mordant words, culled from the copious printed record, animate the narrative throughout, as do accounts of his associations with notables of the era--Gertrude and Leo Stein, Bertrand Russell, and John Dewey among them--many of whom he alienated with his appetite for passionate, public feuds. In this rounded portrait, Albert Barnes emerges as a complex, flawed man, who--blessed with an astute eye for greatness--has left us an incomparable treasure, gathered in one place and unforgettable to all who have seen it.
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HOWARD GREENFELD is the author of many books, including biographies of Puccini, Caruso, and Ben Shahn, as well as introductions to the works of Picasso and Chagall. He lives in New York City with his wife, Paola.From Publishers Weekly:
Multimillionaire art collector Albert Barnes (1872-1951) wrote obscene letters to his enemies; he lashed art critics and dealers, and he insisted that he got rich through the discovery of a medicated silver solution that he, in fact, had merely promoted. The irascible chemist-turned-connoisseur championed the Harlem Renaissance, yet he was often patronizing in his treatment of blacks. He housed his art collection in a Philadelphia suburb to educate the masses, but his foundation's rigid admissions policy has severely limited the public's access to the galleries. Author of bios of Caruso and Puccini, Greenfeld offers an entertaining, balanced profile of the self-made nabob whose art collection includes works by Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Demuth, Glackens, Titian and Rubens. He concludes with a plea to the Barnes Foundation to liberalize its restrictive policies. First serial to Philadelphia magazine.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Marion Boyars, London, 1996. Paperback. Condition: Very Good. Reprint. 306 pages. Book is in Very good condition throughout. Dr. Barnes Was One Of The Most Colourful And Bizarre Figures Of The Twentieth Century Who Became The Citizen Kane Of The American Art World. Seller Inventory # 091646