Friday, August 12, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything

Where: National Gallery of Art

When: through September 18, 2016

No one has given more to the National Gallery than the Mellon family.  Andrew Mellon gave the original gift to found the museum and his son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Bunny Mellon, gave an very large gift of artwork that makes up a significant amount of the permanent collection.  Without the Mellons, there would be no NGA, and we would be the poorer for its absence.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the institution's founding, the National Gallery has put on a show entitled "In Celebration of Paul Mellon," which contains many of the works he gave that are not in the permanent collection.  Many of the works on display are prints on paper, which are too fragile to be out on a regular basis, so this is a great opportunity to see them.

The wall notes at the entrance to the show include this quote from Paul Mellon, "I have never bought pictures as an investment, except as an investment in pleasure..."  So what you're seeing is what the Mellons liked, what they wanted to live with and have in their home.  Mellon described himself as an "incurable collector," and it's interesting to see what he collected.

I was reminded of the Barnes Foundation that I visited in Philadelphia last summer - when you enter a room, it's fun to try to decide how the works go together, since they are not arranged chronologically or by artist or genre.

Verdict: Worth a look - there's something for everyone in this far-ranging collection.

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