Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Kimbell Art Museum

This weekend I got a chance to spend a little time at Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Louis Kahn's masterpiece is being added on to... sorta.  

After an earlier attempt to expand the Kahn building was quashed by public outrage (more at CultureGrrl), this addition will not, in fact, touch the existing building except by a secret staff tunnel.  Once the new building opens, visitors will park underground, enter the new building - with its newer, bigger toilets etc. - then walk processionally outdoors to Kahn's museum... approaching the building as its architect always intended, from the west, not from its sunken, eastern parking lot.  (Finding the "real" entry on a Kahn building can be puzzling.)  

My standing grumble: in building this addition, a much loved public lawn was destroyed.  As a sop to us lawn-lovers and tree-huggers (it was ringed by great trees) part of the new building will get a sod roof.  And, a block away, another lot will eventually become a lawn.

I suppose it's about the best compromise possible.  If it were not Renzo Piano designing the new building, I'd be quite unhappy about the whole idea, but he has a sensitive hand with museums and a real respect, I believe, for Kahn's legacy, and, well, I guess the Kimbell needs the space.  Certainly it'll be good to see the whole permanent collection out where I can visit it!

My visit included a fast "hello" to several favorite paintings: Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun's self portrait, Matisse's L'Asie, and  Mabuse's portrait of Hendrik III, among others.  

I saw the new Poussin there's been such a fuss about, his "Ordination."  (More at the NY Times)  I have to admit to a tepid interest in "Academic" painters... the formality and high seriousness of the style just doesn't do much for me.  But this is obviously (even to me) a very fine example.  

The costume colors are surprisingly vital against the burnt summer/fall of the countryside.  The theatrical expressiveness of the figures is effective - Judas skulks.  Is it just me, or did Poussin use the same model for most of the disciples?  The deep-set eyes and shadowing brows are awfully similar and two feet seem identical.  (Ah!  high-toned art criticism here!)  This is just one of those works I'm going to have to revisit and warm to as I learn to appreciate it.

The building construction?  On-going.  At the moment it's mainly a shockingly big pit.  Here are a few photos:

Kimbell Art Museum, west facade @ center, looking south (public domain)

Kimbell Art Museum, north porch looking SW (public domain)

Kimbell Art Museum, new addition looking south (public domain)

Kimbell Art Museum, new addition, looking north

More progress photos will appear here occasionally, so check back.

No comments:

Post a Comment