On May 19, the Barnes Foundation opens the controversial new building to the public, but wouldn’t a trip to the gift shop be equally disturbing for old man Barnes, who included a stipulation in his will that prohibited reproducing the paintings in color? Pictured below is some of the merch currently available at the Barnes Foundation’s online gift shop. Perhaps the paintings depicted on the clothing and umbrellas aren’t from the Barnes Collection, but, either way, I can’t imagine Barnes would approve this type of merchandise.
Degas Dance Umbrella: Push button to open and close. 100% Polyester. 12 in. tall when closed.
Monet Waterlilies Hoodie: Hand-silkscreened on poly-cotton. Hand wash. Sizes S(4-6), M(8-10), L(10-12), XL(12-14).
Cézanne Brushstroke Scarf: This pure silk scarf captures the beautiful blue brushstrokes from Cézanne’s rendering of the sky in one of his many landscape paintings. Dry clean only.
The Barnes Foundation: Masterworks, with texts by Judith F. Dolkart and Martha Lucy.
“Featuring over 150 beautifully reproduced images of some the most beloved works in the collection, including several rarely-published Picassos and Matisses, alongside full-page spreads of 21 of the Foundation’s distinctive wall ensembles…”
Masterworks is the type of publication Barnes probably had in mind when he barred reproductions, but I don’t remember reading about any legal challenges that overturned his original orders. How could Barnes have ever imagined that one day museums might put an image of a painting on, say, an umbrella? However, according to information on the Barnes Foundation website, images in the collection may now, in fact, be licensed for use on merchandise. “The integrity of objects from the collection must be preserved in all reproductions, therefore all licensed product designs are subject to the Foundation’s approval prior to their publication and marketing.”
Lest readers think Im anti-art-merch, I grew up making jigsaw puzzles that depicted Impressionist paintings and playing Masterpiece, a board game in which players compete for artwork at auctions, so I understand the value of exposing kids to images of art around the house. But if Barnes specified in his will that he didn’t want these particular paintings reproduced, isn’t this new licensing policy, which seems to go miles beyond simple color reproductions, completely insupportable?
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