Today I visited the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. If you don't know much about the Barnes, it is completely unlike all other museum. The collections he assembled, and arranged are works of art themselves. Most archives arrange the work by artist or decade. Uniquely, Albert Barnes, created "ensembles" with common thematic elements. He had a keen eye for spacial relationships, symmetry, lines, shapes and colors.
Albert would put German chairs on the same wall with Renoir and Geometric Period Greek art. His arrangements disregard history, origin, place, and culture. They draw comparisons between commonalities present in all art created by all cultures. Mr Barnes shows us that modernist art can be like ancient African art. That iron work can hold shapes present in impressionism. He seems to both elevate the craft artist and diminish the popular artist. Barnes equalizes art, by elevating the entire idea of what art can be. He creates a narrative structure with priceless works of art. Every wall tells a story. The story of the history of man and why he creates. When you look at these, look for a comparison find two unrelated works, and ask why they are there. look at the whole, then the individual pieces, look at lines, sets/numbers, colors, shapes, themes, genres, etc.
I wish that the "Barnes style of curation" was a thing that all modern museums did. Imagine the Mona Lisa in an ensemble next to American Gothic, and McCurry's Afagan Girl. Imagine Jeff Koons next to ancient Lascaux Cave paintings. As a Philadelphia Film Editor, I learn and am inspired by Mr. Barnes. Everyday I pick frames and shots that form an ensemble. I make choices that follow the rules, with a respect for history and an eye on the future. I develop stories and compare points in history (multi-day shoots, even multi-decade shoots). Like Barnes, I assemble the work of many artists. Cameramen, photographers, musicians, sound designers, etc. into one structured, and usually narrative piece. Mr Barnes would have made an incredible Film Editor, and I am inspired and educated by him.
From Alfred Barnes I learned that the film theory of montage is not set in stone, I can build on it. Contribute to it. I can play with those rules, and draw connections that others have yet to see. Mr Barnes took some of the best art in history, and while preserving it, assembled into his own art-form. Like all great artists, Mr Barnes took the works of artists that came before him, and did his own thing with it. He had respect for history, and an eye for the future. He it the first person who elevated curation into an art-form. Something which no modern institution does, including, the modern Barnes Foundation. His work has frozen in time. The Barnes who has failed to propagate the beautiful art-form of it's founder. They have even locked away art that will never see daylight, because Mr. Barnes had not yet used them in his works. I like to think that I carry on his work, as I create film ensembles. I will go back to the Barnes foundation often
CUT by CUT is a blog about the art of film editing. It challenges norms, catalyzes ideas, and uses science, social psychology, and art history to think about filmmaking.
Aaron is a full time film editor based on the east coast. He thinks a lot, drinks a lot of rockstar, only wears black and red, and works everyday to become better at the art of film editing.