Reading Objects in the Contact Zone
How to cite this chapter

Boyd, Alison: A Modernist Display at the Barnes Foundation, in: Troelenberg, Eva-Maria, Schankweiler, Kerstin and Messner, Anna Sophia (Eds.): Reading Objects in the Contact Zone, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2021 (Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality, Vol. 9).

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ISBN 978-3-96822-049-9 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-96822-050-5 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-3-96822-051-2 (Softcover)

Published 10.06.2021.

Alison Boyd

A Modernist Display at the Barnes Foundation

Curating Formalism, Primitivism, and Democracy

Abstract The collector Albert Barnes (1872–1951) put heterogenous objects—from African sculpture to modernist paintings to utilitarian iron­work—into contact with one another by carefully composing them into art “ensembles.” This chapter examines three different ways to analyze one of Barnes’s ensembles. It investigates the explicit ways that Barnes used aesthetic formalism to bring together objects in his display but, also, the implicit ways that his ideas about American democracy and primitivism undergirded the relationships that he structured between not only the ob­jects in his collection but also the people that he brought together in his galleries.

Keyword Primitivism