Category Archives: Philadelphia Museum of Art


PICTURE-PERFECT GARDENSSet between two flowing fountains and tree-lined pathways, the James A. Michener Art Museum’s Pfundt Sculpture Garden captures the essence of Bucks County’s rolling terrain. Credit: Photo by B. Krist for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®


Art Often Comes With A Side of Floral Beauty In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – Throughout the Philadelphia region, art galleries and museums sit amid colorful gardens, quiet woodlands and serene meadows that accentuate the art found in both indoor and outdoor galleries. Here’s a look at some of the region’s museums and attractions that celebrate beauty inside and out:

  • Abington Art Center  This vibrant cultural organization, known for its summer concert series, occupies part of the 27 acres of historic Alverthorpe Manor in Montgomery County. Inside, three galleries show as many as six regional and national art exhibitions annually. Outside, Katasura trees dot a meandering walkway through Sculpture Park, which is open and free to the public 365 days a year. 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown(215)
  • The Barnes Arboretum & Foundation In suburban Merion, the Barnes Foundation’s 12-acre arboretum is astonishingly diverse for its size, with more than 2,500 varieties of woody and herbaceous plants, many rare. The arboretum opens to visitors May to September. The Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway honors its horticultural legacy with landscaped lawns, trees, park, fountain, contemplative walkways and outdoor seating on its 4.5-acre site. That location’s Garden Restaurant also features outdoor courtyard dining, while internal gardens throughout the building encourage visitors to imagine they are strolling directly into the landscapes they’re admiring on the walls. Arboretum, 300 N. Latch’s Lane, Merion, (215) 278-7200; Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215)  
  • Brandywine River Museum of Art  It takes just one glimpse of the Virginia bluebells, Cardinal flowers and holly and bayberry bushes that border this onetime gristmill to understand why this landscape has served as muse for so many local artists. The Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American art. Outside, visitors can join guided walks through the wildflower and native plant gardens, which were dedicated by Lady Bird Johnson and, during the annual plant sale on Mother’s Day weekend, can take home seeds cultivated right on the grounds, as well as lovely in-bloom plants. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford(610)  
  • James A. Michener Art Museum This Bucks County destination is home to the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion, a 2,700-square-foot indoor-outdoor space designed by architecture firm KieranTimberlake. The pavilion showcases museum programs—jazz nights, lectures, lively family events—within an elegant, all-glass structure that extends into the Patricia Pfundt Sculpture Garden. Inside, the museum’s eight galleries accommodate special exhibitions and a 3,000-piece permanent collection, including many Pennsylvania impressionist paintings that capture the essence of the county’s rolling terrain. 138 S. Pine Street(215) 340-9800, Doylestown,  
  • Penn Museum – After viewing the impressive collection of international art and artifacts inside this historic University of Pennsylvania museum, visitors can relax in two magnificent gardens. The Warden Garden, now wheelchair accessible, features a classic koi pool, expansive lawns and mosaics created by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Stoner Courtyard, built on the philosophy that places for nature are necessary in our built-up world, includes sculptural pieces by A.S. Calder, a cobblestone walkway and a beautiful marble fountain. Inside, guests marvel at ancient objects including African and Native American masks, Maya sculpture and Egyptian mummies. 3260 South Street(215)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Best known for its international exhibitions and world-renowned collections of more than 240,000 works, the crown jewel of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is more than a museum. It’s also the unofficial gateway to Fairmount Park. The museum’s bi-level sculpture garden, with its combination of terraces, lawns, flora and water features, showcases an ever-changing sculpture collection overlooking Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River, the four-acre Azalea Garden and the grand, neoclassical Fairmount Water Works. Works on display include large-scale pieces by Claes Oldenburg Ellsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215)
  • Rodin Museum Movie-theater magnate, philanthropist and Rodin collector Jules Mastbaum, known for his eye for elegance, hired architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber to create this jewel-box museum. The venue’s intimate settings are perfect for taking in the extensive Rodin collection, one of the greatest single collections of his work outside Paris. Visitors seem to enjoy the front garden’s reflecting pool and tapestry of magnolia trees, shrubs and colorful flowers—some dating back to the 1920s—as much as they do The Thinker and Eternal Springtime. 2151 Benjamin Franklin Parkway(215)  
  • Second Bank of the United States – Inside this Parthenon-like structure is a first-rate collection of approximately 200 historic portraits of Founding Fathers, early leaders, explorers and others, many by Charles Willson Peale. Just steps away are several gardens. The Signers’ Garden, with native plants and trees, commemorates the creators of Declaration of the Independence. The 18th-Century Garden replicates formal English gardens of the day with geometrically patterned raised flowerbeds, walking paths, and a pergola. The Rose Garden and Magnolia Garden are secluded, colorful and fragrant refuges. Second Bank, 420 Chestnut Street; Signers’, 5th & Chestnut Streets; 18th-Century, Walnut Street between 3rd & 4th Streets; Rose and Magnolia, Locust Street between 4th & 5th Streets; (215)  
  • Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library Textiles, paintings, prints, furniture and ceramics dating from 1640 to 1860 make the former home of Henry Francis du Pont a favorite for fans of Americana. Nature enthusiasts are drawn to the 60-acre garden nestled in the 1,000-acre country estate. Highlights of the garden include eight acres of azaleas, naturalized bulbs displays, peonies and primroses. Trails lead from the garden through rolling meadow, woodlands and waterways. If the kids get antsy, a short trip across the Troll Bridge leads to the Faerie Cottage in the Enchanted Woods. 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware(800)
  • Woodmere Art Museum – At the top of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, this gem of a venue tells stories of Philadelphia’s art and artists, including N.C. Wyeth, Benjamin West and Violet Oakley, as well as new and emerging contemporary artists. The 19th-century stone Victorian mansion sits on six acres dotted with sculptures by Dina Wind and other Philadelphia-area artists surrounding Harry Bertoia’s sinuous fountain sculpture, Free Interpretation of Plant Forms9201 Germantown Avenue(215)

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Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 141, May 1989, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Snake format artist’s book of gelatin silver prints with colored ink washes, watercolor, and machine stitching. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with funds contributed by Richard L. and Ronay Menschel, Marion Miller, The Paul & Emily Singer Family Foundation, Peter C. Bunnell, and Trevor Drake and Anne Albright, and with the Lynne and Harold Honickman Fund for Photography, 2015-51-1. © Keith Smith.

Keith Smith at Home

February – July 8, 2018

This winter, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Keith Smith at Home, the first major monographic presentation of the artist’s work in five decades. Spanning his entire career, the exhibition brings together over 60 exceptional and varied examples of his handmade artist’s books and experimental photographs, prints, collages, and fabric pieces made over the last half century. The exhibition places special emphasis on his artist’s books, the work for which he is best known. Many of these works are from the artist’s collection and have not been exhibited publicly before.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtMargaret Gave me a Rainbow, 2:30pm 21 November, 1971, 1971, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Collage of 3-M Color-in-Color photocopy transferred to buff-colored manila paper, gold star, multicolored thread, gelatin silver print, and rayon braid and tassels, hand and machine stitched to green plain weave cotton with gold rayon faille backing. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

Smith is an especially private person, and one whose life at home has been the inspiration for much of his art. Central to the installation is Book Number 82, Keith Smith at Home (1982), showing a sequence of views of his residence in Rochester, New York, where he has lived since 1975. Page by page, it conveys the passage of time: views of the same room shift, household objects trade places, and friends appear and reappear in framed artwork on the house’s walls. Visitors will be able to page through this book digitally on an iPad in the gallery.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtMe at My Shed ‑ About to Go after the Mail, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Gelatin silver print with colored ink washes, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

The exhibition highlights books that challenge perceptions of what a book can be. Book Number 11, Up (1969) explores the interplay of images by alternating film-positive transparencies with opaque pages. As the film-positive page is turned, it creates the appearance of an image moving from one side of the page to the next. Book Number 91: a string book (1982) consists of cord, punched holes, and blank pages. Strings are extended across each page and spread in different patterns, sometimes taut and other times slack, creating an abstract and rhythmic narrative. Smith considers his string book to be photographic, as it deals with light, shadow, focus, motif, and sequence.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 11, Up, 1969, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Artist’s book with photographs, drawings, prints, and transparencies. Courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York. © Keith Smith.

Smith has referred to his work as an open diary. Self-representation is a key motif, whether appearing lighthearted or uneasy. Some self-portraits reflect the struggles and joys the artist has experienced in coming out as a gay man, as in Untitled, from Roadside Attractions (1979), a multilayered photograph in which two silhouetted male figures caress each other’s shoulders.

Smith has said, “Social intimidation is not as odious as repression that is self-inflicted. When I permitted my work to speak openly, I gained my freedom and my self-respect.”

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtSelf Portrait, November 1969, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. 3-M Color-in Color-photocopy, hand stitching, and pen and red ink. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

Also on view is a selection of handmade postcards, a format that Smith has experimented with since the 1960s. He made these cards with particular recipients in mind, but, feeling unable to part with them, has kept them. In addition, the exhibition features fabric pieces from the 1960s and 1970s. Among these is Margaret Gave me a Rainbow 2:30pm 21, November 1971, a collage of a photograph of an ear, curtain tassels, and an impression of the artist’s profile made on a color photocopier affixed to an army-issue bedsheet. Smith made Eye Quilt (1965), a full-size quilt screenprinted with a dense pattern of eyes, while a student at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Keith Smith: Word Play is a related installation on view in the Museum’s Library. This intimate display highlights the ways in which Smith uses word play, poetry, typography, and sequencing to create surprising relationships between images and text in his books.

Exhibition organizer Amanda N. Bock, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs, said: “While Smith may seem shy personally, his art is candid, intimate, delightfully irreverent, and transgressive. To share a large body of his work with the public is an exciting and rare opportunity, and it underscores our commitment to showing provocative work by living artists.”

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtAatis with his arm on his hip, August 30, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Postcard: pen and ink, graphite, and colored ink washes on gelatin silver print, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

About Keith Smith (born 1938, Indiana)

Smith’s reluctance to categorize his work established him as a rogue member of both the photography and printmaking departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he graduated in 1967. His works are often radical departures from conventional books, and may unfold, light up, hang on the wall or in a corner, or be constructed of pencils or the shirt off the artist’s own back. Certain themes-friendship, love, desire, intimacy, and domesticity- recur. He has made over 300 artist’s books and over half a dozen seminal instructional manuals on bookbinding.

Keith Smith, At Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtPeeled, August 30, 1973, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Postcard: graphite and colored ink washes on gelatin silver print, machine stitched to secondary support. Courtesy of Keith Smith. © Keith Smith.

Smith’s work is represented in leading public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; the Nelson-Atkins Museum; the George Eastman Museum, Rochester; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships (1972 and 1980) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1978), and has taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester.

Keith Smith at Home, Philadelphia Museum of ArtBook Number 91, a string book, 1982, by Keith Smith, American, b. 1938. Artist’s book with cut outs, punched holes, and string. Courtesy of Keith Smith and Philip Zimmermann.

Public Programs

Representing Queerness
Sunday, March 4 | 2:30 p.m. | Perelman Building
Community Conversations open discussions about socially relevant topics.
Included in Pay What You Wish admission.

Bookmaking Workshops
Saturdays, March 17, April 21, and May 5 | 1:30-4:30 p.m. | Perelman Building
Each session includes a tour of Keith Smith at Home with the exhibition curator.
Each workshop: $20 ($16 members); includes Perelman Building admission

Amanda N. Bock, The Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs

Exhibition Location
Julian Levy Gallery, Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
Installation Location, Library, Second Floor, Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building

Support for this exhibition was provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Social Media
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube: @philamuseum

We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors-through scholarly study and creative play-to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world-and themselves-anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street.

Thank you to The Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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Book 91- String Book; by Keith Smith (1984)


Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of a Young Gentleman, 1474. Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni di Michele de Antonio), Italian. Oil on panel, 12 5/8 x 10 11/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection

November 3, 2017 – February 19, 2018

Art gives us real delight only when the eye derives pleasure from what is really worthy.—John G. Johnson, from his art and travel memoir, Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures (1892)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection, a major exhibition focusing on one of the finest collections of European art ever to have been formed in the United States by a private collector. The exhibition marks the centenary of the remarkable bequest of John Graver Johnson (1841–1917)—a distinguished corporate lawyer of his day and one of its most adventurous art collectors—to the City of Philadelphia in 1917. It also coincides with the celebration of the centennial of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The exhibition includes masterpieces by key figures of the Renaissance such as Botticelli, Bosch, and Titian; important seventeenth-century Dutch paintings by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, and others; and works by American and French masters of Johnson’s own time, most notably Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Édouard Manet, and Claude Monet. Old Masters Now also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative work of the Museum’s curators and conservators who have studied the collection since it was entrusted to the Museum’s care in the early 1930s. The exhibition explores a host of fascinating questions ranging from attribution to authenticity and illuminates the detective work and problem-solving skills that are brought to bear when specialists reevaluate the original meaning and intent of works created centuries ago.

Old Masters Now, PMAMusical Group, 1520s. Callisto Piazza (Calisto de la Piaza da Lodi), Italian (active Lodi and Brescia). Oil on panel, 35 5/8 x 35 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Timothy Rub, The Museum’s George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Over time our appreciation of Johnson’s extraordinary gift continues to grow, and it remains a source of endless fascination with many discoveries still to be made. We are delighted to open a window onto our work, offering visitors a fresh look at the process of scholarship and conservation that we bring to the care of our collection and an insight into the questions, puzzles, and mysteries that continue to occupy our staff.”

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of John G. Johnson, 1917. Conrad F. Haeseler, American. Oil on panel, 34 x 24 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Julia W. Frick and Sidney W. Frick, 1971.

The exhibition opens with a gallery dedicated to Johnson himself, providing a picture of one of Philadelphia’s most prominent leaders during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A timeline traces key moments in his colorful legal career, highlighting important cases and invitations he was reported to have received from President Garfield and President Cleveland to be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, and another from President McKinley to serve as his Attorney General, all of which Johnson declined. It notes that in 1901, he represented his hometown baseball team, the Phillies (then known as the Philadelphia Ball Club), when players sought to break their contracts to play for other teams. This section also explores the decades-long formation of his art collection, from early acquisitions of contemporary art, such as Mary Cassatt’s On the Balcony, to paintings that he acquired the day before he died. Archival material, travel albums, and large-scale photographs of the interiors of Johnson’s houses at 426 and 506 South Broad Street reveal the strikingly idiosyncratic way in which he displayed and lived with his collection. 

Old Masters Now, PMAInterior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, 1631. Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, Dutch (active Haarlem and Utrecht). Oil on panel, 32 5/8 x 43 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Eight paintings in the exhibition illustrate some of the fascinating breakthroughs in understanding that have emerged from curators’ and conservators’ work researching and caring for the collection over time. Among them is Rogier van der Weyden’s Crucifixion, with Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, from around 1460. This pair of wood panels long puzzled scholars, who were uncertain whether they were created as part of an altarpiece or as an independent work. A conservator’s close technical study eventually led to the realization that they had served as shutters that closed over what was likely one of the largest altarpieces made during the Renaissance in northern Europe; its existence is known only through the Johnson Collection paintings and two others discovered in 2012.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Crucifixion, c. 1460. Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (active Tournai and Brussels). Oil on panel, 71 x 36 7/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Descent from the Cross, painted by the Netherlandish artist Joos van Cleve around 1520, has undergone a year-long conservation treatment and is placed on view for the first time in thirty years. Once considered to be simply a copy of a major painting of the same subject created by Rogier van der Weyden eight decades earlier, it remained in storage as a study picture. The painting is now considered to be Joos van Cleve’s homage to this revered masterpiece.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier), c. 1639. Judith Leyster, Dutch (active Haarlem and Amsterdam). Oil on canvas, 35 1/16 x 28 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Another work that illustrates how historical and technical study may recover an artist’s original meaning is Dutch master Judith Leyster’s painting The Last Drop (The Gay Cavalier). Dating to about 1629, it depicts a scene of two men approaching the end of a night of drinking. In 1979 an art historian discovered an early copy of the painting that included a skeleton—a warning to the revelers that they should change their ways. The Johnson painting showed no skeleton, but a conservator’s examination and microscopic cleaning tests in 1992 determined that it once had been painted over and it remained beautifully intact. Removal of the overpainting, documented in a series of photographs, revealed the true message of Leyster’s painting.

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto, 1558. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Italian (active Venice). Oil on canvas, 45 3/16 x 34 15/16 inches. Framed: 58 3/4 × 48 1/4 × 5 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2017.

Titian’s enigmatic Portrait of Archbishop Filippo Archinto of 1558 has been newly cleaned and restored following years of study and conservation treatment. It is presented alongside a display illustrating how the artist’s original materials have changed with age. Recent analysis by Museum conservators and scientists revealed that Titian painted Archinto with a purple cloak, a color identified with archbishops. The blue pigment that contributed to the purple hue deteriorated over time, making the cloak appear red today. This discovery adds insight into how Titian’s contemporaries would have seen this masterful portrait.

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Nicholas of Tolentino Saving a Shipwreck, 1457. Giovanni di Paolo (Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia), Italian (active Siena). Tempera and gold on panel with vertical grain, 20 1/2 x 16 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Attribution is examined in the section devoted to the Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. Johnson was among the earliest Americans to collect Bosch, and today the Museum is among only a handful in the United States that possess a work by this great painter. Although Johnson purchased 10 works that he understood to be by the artist, close comparative looking and technical research—most notably through the use of dendrochronology (dating growth rings in wood)—has led to the conclusion that only one can be considered authentic today.

Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation, said, “The work that goes on in conservation is at the very heart of the Museum’s commitment to expanding the understanding of the art in its care. We are looking forward to sharing with visitors not just the results of that work, but also the processes of investigation and the excitement of discovery.”

Old Masters Now, PMAHead of Christ, c. 1648‑1656. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch (active Leiden and Amsterdam), 1606 ‑ 1669. Oil on oak panel, laid into larger oak panel, 14 1/8 x 12 5/16 inches. Framed: 28 1/4 x 23 x 2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The exhibition also explores those areas of European painting in which Johnson focused in depth, including Italian, Dutch and Netherlandish, and French art. The number of Dutch paintings he acquired was among the largest of his day, and is especially rich in landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael and animated genre scenes by Jan Steen. Rembrandt’s Head of Christ is also on view in this section.

Old Masters Now, PMAChrist and the Virgin, c. 1430‑1435. Robert Campin, also called the Master of Flémalle, Netherlandish (active Tournai). Oil and gold on panel, 11 1/4 x 17 15/16 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

One section devoted to some of the earliest works in Johnson’s collection explores how art historians and conservators evaluate the original context of works that today exist only as fragments of a larger whole. Here an image of the Sienese artist Duccio’s great altarpiece called the Maestá will be placed beside his workshop’s Angel, showing how it was placed and functioned within the larger composition. Other fragmentary works on view include four small superb paintings by Botticelli and Fra Angelico’s Saint Francis of Assisi.

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1430‑1432. Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges). Oil on vellum on panel, 5 x 5 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Another section is devoted to Johnson’s fascination with the art of his time. It highlights Édouard Manet’s Battle of the USS “Kearsarge” and the CSS “Alabama”, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, and major paintings by John Constable, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer, Camille Pissarro, and Eduard Charlemont, and a marble by Auguste Rodin.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Descent from the Cross, c. 1518‑1520. Joos van Cleve, Netherlandish (active Antwerp and France). Oil on panel, 45 1/4 x 49 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2017.

During the presentation of the exhibition the Johnson curatorial and conservation team will be frequently available in the galleries to give talks and answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Museum’s European galleries, where other works from the Johnson Collection are installed, including a display of sculptures in gallery 273 and another devoted to embroideries and other textiles.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Adoration of the Magi, Early 16th century. Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlandish (active Hertogenbosch). Oil on panel, 30 1/2 × 22 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917. Post-conservation image, 2015.

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection, said, “Our understanding of the Johnson Collection is constantly changing. This exhibition marks the first significant assessment of how our thinking on it has evolved over the years. While the careful study we have given to objects in the collection is rarely presented to the public, we are quite pleased to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the work we do.” 

Old Masters Now, PMAPortrait of a Lady, c. 1577‑1580. Attributed to El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), Spanish (born Crete, active Italy and Spain). Oil on panel, 15 5/8 x 12 5/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Digital Publication

On the occasion of the centenary of Johnson’s bequest to the City of Philadelphia, the Museum is producing its first digital publication, The John G. Johnson Collection: A History and Selected Works. The publication includes thematic essays written by the Museum’s curatorial and conservation teams that focus on the history of, scholarship on, and stewardship of the collection. Catalogue entries on seventy objects from the Johnson Collection integrate digitized archival resources, allowing scholars new ways to explore the histories of the artworks. It will be available for free and accessible to researchers and the public alike on February 1, 2018 (ISBN: 978-0-87633-276-4).

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Battle of the U.S.S. “Kearsarge” and the C.S.S. “Alabama”, 1864. Édouard Manet, French. Oil on canvas, 54 1/4 x 50 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The development of this catalogue is led by Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives; and Karina Wratschko, Special Projects Librarian. Atkins said, “We are connecting art information with archival information. This is the most groundbreaking aspect of the project as most institutions have treated these materials separately, until now.”

Old Masters Now, PMARailroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874. Claude Monet, French. Oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 28 7/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

The John G. Johnson Curatorial and Conservation Team

Jennifer Thompson, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Curator of European Painting and Sculpture and Curator of the John G. Johnson Collection
Christopher D. M. Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, and Manager of Curatorial Digital Programs and Initiatives
Mark Tucker, The Neubauer Family Director of Conservation
Teresa Lignelli, The Aronson Senior Conservator of Paintings

Carl Brandon Strehlke, Curator Emeritus, John G. Johnson Collection

Joseph J. Rishel, Curator Emeritus, European Painting

Old Masters Now, PMAMarine, 1866. Gustave Courbet, French. Oil on canvas on gypsum board. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About John Graver Johnson (1841–1917)
Born in the village of Chestnut Hill, now part of Philadelphia, and educated in the city’s public Central High School and then at the University of Pennsylvania, Johnson became recognized as the greatest lawyer in the English-speaking world. He represented influential clients such as J. P. Morgan, US Steel, the Sugar Trust, and Standard Oil. He was also known to accept cases that many would consider ordinary if the details piqued his intellectual interest. Johnson quietly acquired many important works of art as well as highly singular ones that have been the source of much scholarly discussion.

At the age of 34 he married Ida Alicia Powel Morrell (1840–1908), a widow with three children. He traveled to Europe often, visiting France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Belgium, and collected pictures as an amateur art historian relying on his own evaluation. In 1892 he published Sight-Seeing in Berlin and Holland among Pictures. Also that year, he published a catalogue of his collection, which at the time included 281 paintings.

In 1895 Johnson was appointed to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Art Commission where he oversaw the Wilstach Gallery, which housed a public collection of paintings. Under his leadership, the commission purchased important works, among them James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Black and Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Annunciation, the first work by an African American artist to enter a public collection in the United States. Johnson was also the attorney for Alexander Cassatt, brother of the artist Mary Stevenson Cassatt. One of his earliest purchases was Cassatt’s On the Balcony. When Johnson gave this work to the Wilstach Gallery in 1906, it was the first painting by the artist to enter an American public collection. During his 22-year stewardship of the Wilstach Gallery, he made 53 gifts from his personal collection, which are now on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Old Masters Now, PMAPurple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, 1864. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American (active England). Oil on canvas, 36 3/4 x 24 1/8 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

About the John G. Johnson Collection
Johnson’s collection was formed through his own study and, in later years, with the assistance of illustrious art historians including Roger Fry and Wilhelm Valentiner. Bernard Berenson advised his purchases of works by, among others, Antonello da Messina, Sandro Botticelli, and Pietro Lorenzetti. To this day, the John G. Johnson Collection is distinguished by its quality, rarity, and diversity in European art.

At the time of his death on April 14, 1917, Johnson left his collection to the City of Philadelphia. In his will, he said, “I have lived my life in this City. I want the collection to have its home here.” The City of Philadelphia accepted the conditions of his will, which contained a codicil directing that his house be opened as a gallery for the public to enjoy. In 1933 the Johnson Collection was moved temporarily from Johnson’s house at 510 South Broad Street to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, due to a funding crisis caused by the Great Depression as well as a determination by a court-appointed master that the Johnson house was unsafe for the collection. In 1958 the Museum, the City, and the Johnson Trust entered a formal agreement concerning storage and display of the Johnson Collection at the Museum. Johnson’s art was exhibited as a separate collection within the Museum for more than 50 years. In the late 1980s, legal approval was granted for the Museum to integrate the works into its full collection. The collection numbers 1,279 paintings, 51 sculptures, and over 100 other objects.

Old Masters Now, PMAOn the Balcony, 1873. Mary Stevenson Cassatt, American. Oil on canvas, 39 3/4 × 32 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of John G. Johnson for the W. P. Wilstach Collection, 1906.

This exhibition has been made possible by The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, The Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Kowitz Family Foundation, Friends of Heritage Preservation, Lawrence H. and Julie C. Berger, The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, The Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, The Robert Lehman Foundation, James and Susan Pagliaro, Lyn M. Ross, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, and Joan F. Thalheimer.

Support for the accompanying digital publication has been provided by Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky, Martha Hamilton Morris and I. Wistar Morris III, an anonymous donor, and other generous individuals.

Old Masters Now, PMAThe Moorish Chief, 1878. Eduard Charlemont, Austrian. Oil on panel, 59 1/8 x 38 1/2 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

Social media: To follow the conversation on social media use the hashtag #OldMastersNow

Facebook: philamuseum; Twitter: philamuseum; Tumblr: philamuseum; YouTube: PhilaArtMuseum; Instagram: @philamuseum

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional press information contact the press office at 215-684-7860 or For general information, call 215-763-8100 or visit

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post. Click the pictures for large images.

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Philadelphia AssembledCity is Stage for Philadelphia Assembled

April through December 2017

Beginning in late April, a project entitled Philadelphia Assembled will manifest in a series of activities and actions throughout the city to illuminate and amplify a broad set of hopes, visions, and questions about Philadelphia’s future. Initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, working alongside an extensive network of collaborators—among them artists, writers, builders, storytellers, gardeners, healers, and activists—Philadelphia Assembled aims to shape a collective narrative about our city and some of the most urgent issues it faces at a time of heightened transformation. Deeply integrated into the fabric of the Museum, the project also questions the place of this institution in the midst of this change.

Philadelphia Assembled

Following this spring season of city-wide programs, the project will culminate in an exhibition opening in September at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This participatory installation, September 10 through December 10, 2017, will transform the Perelman Building’s ground floor galleries, café, and store into spaces that will celebrate the people, sights, sounds, and tastes of a resilient city’s multi-faceted identity. Admission will be Pay What You Wish.

Evocatively referred to as “atmospheres of democracy”, Philadelphia Assembled addresses a number of issues that are central to the future the city by focusing on key themes such as reconstructions—how we deal with questions of social displacement and reentry into society; sovereignty—how we define self-determination and autonomy; sanctuary—how we understand self-care, asylum, and refuge; futures—how to re-imagine our tomorrow; and movement—how we facilitate action and collective learning.

Philadelphia Assembled

Van Heeswijk’s work, which is often described as social practice or socially engaged art, combines art and activism. In this spirit, the project brings together voices of those who care about the changing landscape of Philadelphia and who, in life and work, seek to champion and secure a prosperous and equitable future for all of its citizens.

Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and CEO, stated, “Some of the most interesting work being done by artists today straddles the boundary between art and life.  In 2013, we invited the Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk to consider what an artist might do in engaging Philadelphia’s many neighborhoods and diverse communities. What began as a conversation has grown, and it has been fascinating—and rewarding—to watch Philadelphia Assembled take on a life of its own. We are looking forward to the moment when our galleries are appropriated to become a stage for the city itself. It promises to be exciting and full of surprises and presents an opportunity to consider how we might define the roles and responsibilities that the Philadelphia Museum of Art can play as a civic institution in a changing city in the 21st century.”

Denise Valentine, a collaborator and Philadelphia storyteller, reflected on this process: “We intend to re-imagine the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a place to unearth stories hidden deep in the soil of Philadelphia. We envision a place where narratives of the enslaved, the incarcerated, the displaced, and the disenfranchised are held in as high esteem as Eurocentric ideas about art, history, and culture.”

Philadelphia Assembled

The project’s five “atmospheres” are described below:


This atmosphere will assemble personal and collective narratives of mass incarceration and gentrification. Its first site, in the Nicetown/Tioga neighborhood, will be realized in close collaboration with Reconstructions, Inc. and the Alumni Ex Offenders Association. This group will offer programs exploring concepts of home, healing and trauma in relationship to imprisonment and reentry, including a teach-in and a neighborhood-wide procession. At a second site, in South Kensington/Olde Kensington, collaborators are examining the impact of gentrification and displacement, working with the Women’s Community Revitalization Project and Healthy Rowhouse Project to re-imagine a community garden at 4th and Master Streets as a dynamic space for discussion.

Philadelphia Assembled


Exploring the concepts of self-determination and autonomy, this working group is addressing land sovereignty and cooperative forms of commerce and cultural exchange. Philadelphia Assembled will create a “sovereignty room” at the African Cultural Art Forum on 52nd Street, which will serve as a dedicated space in West Philadelphia for creating unity and cultivating economic sovereignty. Established in 1969, ACAF is a community-based organization that manufactures and sells products by entrepreneurs throughout the African diaspora. In the “sovereignty room” ACAF will host skill trainings and exchanges in preparation for a large public “Sovereignty Marketplace” in June. The second site is envisioned as a network of four urban gardens located in North Philadelphia. Programming and installations across these gardens will inform the ways in which plants, seeds, and land reinforce people’s connection to ancestry and serve as vehicles for nourishment, healing, and future growth. Urban gardens involved include Urban Creators, Norris Square Neighborhood Project Gardens, Fair Hill Burial Grounds, and Stretch and Fly Youth Business Garden.

Philadelphia Assembled


The Futures atmosphere is drawing from anti-colonial ideas to model different ways of exploring the future and community building. The Futures site is an active mobile project, called the Mobile Futures Institute, which involves retro-fitting a small bus into a flexible work space that will travel throughout the city, engaging in neighborhood-based programs on issues ranging from decolonization, to environmental racism, to economic justice. Collaborators are working with community members and organizations to produce events and happenings via the Mobile Futures Institute. Current partners include the Center for Returning Citizens, Black Quantum Futurism, Friends Center, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, Norris Square Community Alliance, Mighty Writers, and the Indigenous Peoples Day Movement, among others.

Philadelphia Assembled


This group has proposed a combination of sites that will explore various models of self-care, asylum, and refuge. The larger site will be realized at a central location in Center City. The site structure is a geodesic dome inspired by temporary housing units for refugees in Europe. The space will be open for a month of summer programs, offering a layered definition of sanctuary through storytelling, advocacy, and direct action. In the months leading up to the fixed site, a portable site will host a series of activities working with identified partner organizations to address the provision of LBGTQ safe spaces, issues of immigration and migration, and harm reduction relating to drug use and sex work. Partner organizations include the Attic Youth Center, New Sanctuary Movement, Prevention Point Philadelphia, and Project Safe.

Philadelphia Assembled


The final atmosphere is one in which the various Philadelphia Assembled working groups intersect. This group is focused on the project’s production, dissemination, and communication, which is manifesting in audio recordings, a dedicated film series, project-specific graphics, an interactive web platform, and site-specific publications. Another component of the Movement atmosphere is the Youth Dream Trust, which will serve as a coalition of youth across the working groups in partnership with the Village of Arts and Humanities. Working closely with Philadelphia-based collective Amber Art and Design, the group will also orchestrate the performative movement of public sites to the Museum. Carrying objects, ideas, and conversations across the city streets, this public movement will culminate in a communal presentation along the ground floor of the Perelman Building, becoming a civic stage where the city is performed.

For Jeanne van Heeswijk, Philadelphia Assembled is a forward-moving process in which she is one among many participants imagining the city’s futures together. She stated: “My work is trying to get to the essence of aesthetics, to understand it as an engaged, inclusive, and proactive practice. This type of work is about using imagination to better understand how we live together. Rising, claiming, rooting, caring, moving – this is how we build a collective exercise of care.”

Philadelphia Assembled

Members of the public are invited to join the conversation and engage with collaborators by visiting the Philadelphia Assembled website and sharing their experiences via #phlassembled @phlassembled @philamuseum.

Program Events

For a full list of public programs and locations, please visit the dedicated website at All Philadelphia Assembled programs are free to the public unless noted otherwise.

Philadelphia Assembled

About Jeanne Van Heeswijk

Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local.” Her community-embedded projects question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing and pedagogy in order to work alongside communities to take control of their own futures. Van Heeswijk’s work has been featured in publications and exhibitions worldwide, including the Liverpool, Shanghai, and Venice biennials. Accolades include the receipt of the 2011 Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change, the 2012 Curry Stone Prize for Social Design Pioneers, and the 2014 inaugural Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at the Center for Curatorial Studies and Human Rights Project at Bard College. She lives and works in Rotterdam and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Assembled

About Social Practice
Social Practice is an art medium that focuses on participation and collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the collective creation of a temporary or permanent community. The process involves careful listening, thoughtful conversation, and community organizing. This is also referred to as socially engaged art, social justice art, community art and new genre public art.


Philadelphia Assembled is made possible by the William Penn Foundation, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Wyncote Foundation, Nancy M. Berman and Alan Bloch, Lynne and Harold Honickman, Mr. and Mrs. Milton S. Schneider, Constance and Sankey Williams, the Mondriaan Fund, and The Netherland-America Foundation.

Philadelphia Assembled


Philadelphia Assembled is initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and organized with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art; Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art; Phoebe Bachman, Project Coordinator; and Sheldon Abba, Project Site Manager. Core collaborators include: Amber Art and Design, artist collective; Yana Balson, Associate Director of Exhibition Planning, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Kirtrina Baxter, community organizer and activist grower; Pascale Boucicaut, culinary artist and organizer; Maurits de Bruijn, graphic designer and web developer; Counter Narrative Society (CNS); Helen Cunningham, educator and conflict mediator; Gretchen Dykstra, Senior Marketing Editor, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Morgan Gengo, Marketing and Audience Development Manager, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Shari Hersh, Mural Arts Senior Project Manager and Founder of the Restored Spaces Initiative; Russell Hicks, entrepreneur; in•site collaborative, a research, design, and mapping collective; Nehad Khader, film curator and artist; Jason Killinger, graphic designer; Dianne Loftis, researcher and compiler; Charlotte Lowrey, Project Assistant for the Contemporary Caucus, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Zein Nakhoda, filmmaker; Michael O’Bryan, artist and youth facilitator; People’s Paper Co-op, a collaborative initiative for re-entry; Elisabeth Perez-Luna, journalist and public broadcasting producer; Damon Reaves, Associate Curator of Education, Community Engagement and Access, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Chris Rogers, educator and organizer; Kristin Schwab, community cook and organizer; 75B, design collective; Traction Company, artist collaborative studio; Denise Valentine, storyteller and activist; Phantazia Washington, LGBTQ activist and facilitator; A. M. Weaver, artist and curator; Gee Wesley, artist and curator; Jared Wood, artist; Karina Wratschko, Special Projects Librarian, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Billy Yalowitz, playwright and community-based performance artist.

Community Partners and Program Hosts

African Cultural Art Forum, Alumni Ex-Offenders Association, The Attic Youth Center, Broad Street Ministry, The Center for Returning Citizens, Coalition for Racial Justice (CoRaJus), Community Futurisms: Time & Memory in North Philly (Community Futures Lab), The Culinary Enterprise Center, Deep Green Philly, The Enterprise Center, Experimental Farm Network, Healthy Rowhouse Project, Historic Fair Hill, Laos in the House, Mighty Writers, MOVE, Mural Arts Philadelphia, New Sanctuary Movement Philadelphia, Norris Square Neighborhood Project, North Central CDC, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, Prevention Point Philadelphia, Project SAFE, Reconstruction Inc., Soil Generation, Take Back the Night Philadelphia, Ulises, Urban Creators-Life Do Grow Farm, The Village of Arts and Humanities, W/N W/N, and the Women’s Community Revitalization Project.


In the City: April – July 2017

Movement to the Museum: July – August 2017

Perelman Building, ground floor: September 10–December 10, 2017

Philadelphia Assembled is a project undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders from across the city and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The views expressed by individual participants or in materials developed as part of Philadelphia Assembled are representative of the project’s collective conception and production and are not, necessarily, the views of the Museum or any other individual involved.

Social Media
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube: @philamuseum @phlassembled

We are Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Kiss, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia


In 2017 several major North American art museums are celebrating the centenary of Auguste Rodin’s (1840–1917) death with traveling exhibitions, permanent collection installations, and a robust program of educational activities. Unified under #Rodin100 and joining a worldwide series of major Rodin projects, these public programs and exhibitions are bringing together new information about the groundbreaking French sculptor.  Please refer to each museum’s website for more detailed information.

Exhibitions in North America

The Kiss

Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, PA, February 1, 2017–January 2019

The Rodin Museum presents a new installation centered on the theme of passionate embrace. Bringing together marbles, bronzes, plasters, and terracottas made by Rodin over a 30-year period, this reinstallation includes works such as The Minotaur, I am Beautiful, Eternal Springtime, and Youth Triumphant. It demonstrates the variety of approaches, meanings, and allusions that Rodin brought to his intimate figure groupings in order to evoke emotional intensity. In particular, the Rodin Museum’s copy of The Kiss, a marble commissioned by Jules Mastbaum in 1926 for the museum, is considered for its unique history and as an example of Rodin’s continuing appeal. In addition, other important Rodin sculptures, such as The Thinker and Monument to Balzac, are being reinstalled in the library, octagonal galleries, and vestibules.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryYoung Mother in the Grotto, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

The Rodin Museum on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway is one of the world’s celebrated places in which to experience the work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Opened to the public in 1929 and now restored to its original splendor, this remarkable ensemble of architecture, landscape, and sculpture was designed by architect Paul Cret and landscape architect Jacques Gréber.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Hand of God, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Rodin: The Human Experience—Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections

Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, through April 16, 2017 

Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI, May 6–July 30, 2017

Telfair Museums, Savannah, GA, September 1, 2017–January 7, 2018*

A traveling exhibition of 52 bronzes by the French sculptor who revolutionized the genre, this selection of stunning works demonstrates Rodin’s particular passion for modeling the human form in clay, the medium in which his hand and mind are most directly evidenced. While Rodin’s works always remained faithful to nature, he departed from traditional practice in seeking to reveal the creative process.

The bronzes on view represent major achievements throughout Rodin’s career. They include powerful studies for The Burghers of Calais, as well as works derived from his masterpiece The Gates of Hell. Among works demonstrating his experimentation with assemblage is The Night (Double Figure), while other works on view, such as Monumental Torso of the Walking Man, demonstrate his admiration for Michelangelo or, as in Dance Movement D, speak to his interest in understanding how the body moves.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Good Spirit, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

The exhibition is especially rich in portraiture. Included are Rodin’s renowned depictions of the writers Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac; the composer Gustav Mahler; the artist Claude Lorrain; one of his favorite dancers, Hanako; and The Creator, which is likely a self-portrait.

Rodin’s deft skill in using the bronze-casting technique to represent living flesh and his interest in expressing extreme psychological states were highly influential upon younger artists, both in Europe and America. The exhibition reveals why the artist is considered the crucial link between traditional and modern sculpture.

*The Telfair Museum‘s exhibition presents a selection of 32 figures in bronze by Auguste Rodin accompanied by a range of related educational programs for all ages, including an opening lecture by Sobol, a major field trip program focusing on sculpture and writing for schools, and a family day with demonstrations by local public sculptors.

This exhibition has been organized and made possible by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryDamned Women, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime—Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections

The Pauly Friedman Art Gallery, Misericordia University, Dallas, PA, September 9–December 9, 2017

The selected works featured in Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime demonstrate Auguste Rodin’s deep appreciation for the natural form of the human figure. From his first major sculpture, Rodin’s work was marked by realism, which set him apart from the traditional idealized academic art of the 18th and 19th centuries. Rodin captured the expressiveness and authentic emotion of his subjects in part by using roughly textured bronze surfaces to reflect light, giving the effect of movement. His works were both praised and criticized during his lifetime. Today he is credited with transforming sculpture into a modern art form and he remains one of the most influential artists of all time.

This exhibition has been organized and made possible by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Death of Adonis, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation

Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA, January 28–December 31, 2017

The Legion of Honor is presenting a new installation of its extraordinary Auguste Rodin holdings in an exhibition timed for the centenary of the artist’s death. Some 50 sculptures in bronze, marble, and plaster—drawn from the permanent holdings of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco—celebrate Rodin in a new context. The exhibition examines the artist’s life and influential work—from his early days courting controversy with sculptures that bore unexpected levels of naturalism to his lasting influence. Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation provides a significant opportunity for Bay Area audiences to explore the legacy of the artist known as the father of modern sculpture.

To further commemorate the Rodin centenary, the Fine Arts Museums have invited international artists Urs Fischer and Sarah Lucas to conceive installations combining new and existing works in dialogue with the museums’ Rodin holdings that explore under-appreciated dimensions of Rodin’s work. Another exhibition presents a unique dialogue between the masterpieces of Rodin and the work of the great fin de siècle Austrian master of modernism, Gustav Klimt, in Gustav Klimt and Auguste Rodin: A Turning Point.

Urs Fischer: April 22–July 9, 2017
Sarah Lucas: July 15–September 24, 2017
Gustav Klimt and Auguste Rodin: A Turning Point: October 14, 2017–January 28, 2018

Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Sirens, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Kiefer Rodin

The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, November 17, 2017–February 12, 2018

In collaboration with the Musée Rodin in Paris, the Barnes Foundation presents Kiefer Rodin. Echoing Albert Barnes’s belief in artistic expression as an endless conversation between works of different times and places, this exhibition gathers new works by renowned contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer (born in 1945) that were created in response to sculptures and drawings by Rodin. Both Rodin and Kiefer establish a formal and spiritual analogy between architecture—specifically Gothic cathedrals—and the human body. Rooted in experimentation and the manipulation of unexpected materials, Kiefer’s and Rodin’s artistic processes convey a poignant vision of humanity’s spiritual dilemma and our relation to history.

With over 100 works, the exhibition includes several of Kiefer’s large-scale illustrated books made in homage to Rodin and using such materials as plaster; large paintings; and vitrines filled with assorted objects including molds, dried plants, stones, and pieces of fabric; as well as sculptures and drawings by Rodin, some displayed in the United States for the first time. The contrast of Rodin’s work with Kiefer’s emphasizes Rodin’s modernity and his proximity to contemporary practice. Opening at the Musée Rodin in Paris (March 14–October 22, 2017), the exhibition travels to the Barnes in time to mark the centenary of Rodin’s death.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryThe Minotaur, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Rodin at The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, September 5, 2017–January 15, 2018

The Met celebrates its historic connections to Rodin through an exhibition of his sculptures in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Gallery. The nearly 60 marbles, bronzes, plasters, and terracottas represent over a century of acquisitions and gifts to the museum. Included are iconic works such as The Thinker and The Hand of God as well as masterpieces such as The Tempest that have not been on view in decades. Paintings from The Met collection by Rodin’s contemporaries and friends, including Claude Monet and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, complement the sculptures on display.

The extraordinary range of The Met’s holdings of Rodin’s work is also highlighted in a related focus exhibition, Rodin on Paper, a selection of Rodin’s drawings, prints, letters, and illustrated books, as well as photographs by Edward Steichen of the master sculptor and his art.

Eve through the Glance of Art

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City, Mexico, November 17, 2017–April 2018

Works by Rodin are the core of the Fundación Carlos Slim’s collection at the Museo Soumaya. On view in the sculpture garden, in the gallery dedicated to the memory of the collector’s parents, Julián and Linda Slim, are more than 150 works in bronze, marble, plaster, porcelain, and terracotta.

Rodin’s Eve (1883, marble) is the centerpiece of the exhibition, which includes an array of representations of Eve by several artists in the Museo Soumaya’s collection set in dialogue with one another. These remarkable works—representing different periods, styles, and sensibilities in Europe, Mexico, and Latin America—are by such artists as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Jan Brueghel the Younger, Alfred Roll, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, Juan Soriano, and Georges Rouault. Video-labels, used as museographic support, share poetry, literature, critique, and sketches.

For the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death, the Museo Soumaya is developing a series of activities to promote the artist: dedicating the November issue of the museum magazine to the French sculptor; combining Rodin’s bronzes with crafts of Mexican artists, full of color and folklore, on two altars during the Day of the Dead celebration; and launching—thanks to Virtual Reality Technology—a computer-generated gallery with 3D images of Rodin’s sculptures. Also, in support of free access to knowledge the Museo Soumaya and the Wikimedia Foundation are planning to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest Edit-a-thon: 100 hours to celebrate Rodin’s centennial.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryYouth Triumphant, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Permanent Collection Installations/Promotions

The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH

Rodin: Master of Modern Sculpture

The Cleveland Museum of Art marks the centennial of Auguste Rodin’s death with a display of works from the museum’s permanent collection. During World War I, while the museum’s original building was under construction, trustees began negotiating with Rodin to acquire a series of works for the building’s opening in June 1916. Rodin agreed to cast a special version of his celebrated Age of Bronze for the museum. Other life-size casts were also acquired at this time, including a monumental version of The Thinker destined to become the signature work gracing the museum’s main entrance. The museum would acquire more than 30 works that span the artist’s career in a wide variety of materials, including the magnificent larger-than-life plaster sculpture Heroic Head of Pierre de Wissant. This special presentation of Rodin is on view beginning Septem ber 1, 2017.

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Always on view, Rodin’s Christ and Mary Magdalene is a three-and-a-half foot marble sculpture of a dying man nailed to rock and mourned by a naked woman kneeling in front of him. Rodin alternatively titled the work Prometheus and the Oceanid and The Genius and Pity, opening up the composition to multiple biblical, mythical, and secular associations.

The compelling strength of this work results from the stark contrast between the highly polished surfaces of the naked flesh and the surrounding rough-hewn marble. Rodin admired Michelangelo’s sculptures and that artist’s influence on Rodin can be seen not only in the unfinished parts of the piece but also in the dramatically contorted female body. As was his practice, this sculpture was entrusted to Rodin’s primary marble carver Victor Peter, a well-regarded artist himself, though Rodin oversaw the process. Unlike most of Rodin’s works, this sculpture was never cast in bronze and only one other marble version exists.

Christ and Mary Magdalene is on view in the Getty Museum’s West Pavilion alongside the work of painters who were contemporaries of Rodin.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryI Am Beautiful, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CA

Sixty-six works by Rodin represent one of the largest concentrations by any artist in the museum’s collection. Two dozen significant works in bronze, plaster, and porcelain are on view year-round in the B. Gerald Cantor Sculpture Garden and in the European galleries.

Highlights include Eternal Spring, one of Rodin’s most sensual compositions, first created around 1884; two examples of The Minotaur and Nymph (c. 1886), one of Rodin’s most popular small erotic compositions; a selection of life-size individual figures, such as Jean d’Aire and Jean de Fiennes, created for The Burghers of Calais (1889); and the ninth cast of the colossal Monument to Balzac.

All showcase the power of Rodin’s modeling, his interest in movement and materiality, and his dedication to capturing the vitality of the human form.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

The Met’s relationship with Rodin began in the first decade of the 1900s when the sculptor was at the height of his international fame. Museum benefactors like Thomas Fortune Ryan encouraged collaboration with the artist to form a collection of his work.  Marbles were acquired directly from Rodin’s studio, bronzes were cast at the museum’s request, and the sculptor also donated plaster and terracotta models. During these years, the museum also actively acquired Rodin’s graphic art.

In 1912, The Met opened a gallery dedicated to Rodin’s sculptures and drawings, the first at the museum devoted exclusively to the work of a living artist. Displayed in that gallery were almost 30 sculptures, and by 1913, 14 drawings and watercolors. At this time Rodin wrote to the museum’s director, Andrew Robinson, describing how happy it made him to augment the museum’s collections, knowing how tastefully the gallery was arranged. In the late 20th century, the historic core of The Met’s Rodin collection was magnificently enhanced by Iris and B. Gerald Cantor and their Foundation’s gifts of over 30 sculptures, many of them posthumous editions authorized by the artist, as well as funding for a new gallery in which to display the collection.  Today, The Met’s holdings of Rodin’s art are among the largest in the United States. Their strength lies in their breadth and depth, and their capacity to unite Rodin’s lifetime achievement with his enduring sculptural legacy.  

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Boston played an important role in the collecting of Rodin’s work in America during the sculptor’s lifetime.  The MFA acquired its first piece in 1906 and the collection has grown to include 19 sculptures in marble and bronze, 12 prints, and four drawings. Four of the most distinguished sculptures in the collection are on view in the galleries, three of which were already at the MFA by the time of Rodin’s death in 1917. These are Ceres (marble; carved in 1896; acquired in 1906); Psyche (marble; carved in 1899; acquired directly from Rodin’s exhibition of 1900 at the Pavilion d’Alma by the historian and writer Henry Adams for his niece Louisa Hooper and on loan to the MFA from 1904 until its acquisition in 1975); Bust of Jules Dalou (bronze; modeled in 1883; cast around 1889; bought in 1912 by the MFA directly from the artist after its exhibition at the museum that year); and Eternal Springtime (bronze; modeled in 1881; cast in 1916 or 1917 by Rodin for his young cousin Henriette Coltat; acquired in 1993).

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

The National Gallery of Art, Washington, holds one of the largest collections of works in marble, clay, plaster, and bronze created by Rodin during his lifetime, some 30 of which are currently on view. The collection’s core was formed by a gift in 1942 to the newly opened Gallery from the artist’s patron, promoter, and friend Kate Simpson. After this American collector decided to close her home in New York City, she chose to give her entire collection of Rodin works—all acquired during the sculptor’s lifetime—to the Gallery so that they could remain together. Included in the gift were bronze examples of the iconic works The Thinker (model 1880, cast 1901), The Kiss (model 1880–1887, cast c. 1898/1902), and Head of Balzac (model 1897).

Additional highlights of the Gallery’s collection of Rodin include a full-size plaster cast of the artist’s first recognized masterpiece, The Age of Bronze (model 1875–1876, cast 1898); a moving plaster bust of Jean d’Aire (model 1884–1889, cast probably early 20th century) as well as a bronze reduction of the complete figure of Jean d’Aire from the self-sacrificing group portrayed in The Burghers of Calais (model 1884–1889, reduction cast probably 1895); and studies and works on paper. The most recent addition to the collection is the marble Eve (model c. 1881, carved 1890/1891), acquired in 2014 as part of the Corcoran Collection.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

Rodin’s The Thinker is the beloved centerpiece of the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. It is being celebrated during Kansas City’s Big Picnic, a massive annual gathering on Sunday, July 23, that stretches from the museum’s 22-acre campus across the street to Kansas City’s Theis Park. The picnic is a joint project between the museum and the city. The promotion includes a social media contest challenging visitors to strike their best “thinking” pose.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO holds four works by Rodin, including two drawings, the small wax figure Study of a Seated Man (possibly for “The Sailor”), and the powerful Adam, a bronze sculpture that is on permanent view in the museum’s sculpture hall. With its twisting torso, bent knee, and obliquely crossed arm, the sculpture depicts Adam from the Old Testament at the moment of his creation.

Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA

The Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA is home to 11 works by Rodin, eight of which are on permanent view in the museum’s front entrance garden. These include such iconic bronze sculptures as Monument to Balzac and The Burghers of Calais, as well as The Thinker, which looks out over busy Colorado Boulevard. Rodin’s mastery of depicting the human form is evident in the works Saint John the Baptist, The Walking Man, Jean de Fiennes, Vetu, Pierre de Wissant, and Nude. Also in the collection, but not on permanent display, are three of Rodin’s charming small bronze works depicting dancers in various poses.

Auguste Rodin CentenaryEternal Springtime, Auguste Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

In France and Europe

The centenary is being commemorated at the Musée Rodin as well as other European institutions. More information is at

Thank you to The Rodin Museum Philly and The Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content and photographs for this post.

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