“It is pure joy I am giving you.”

Van Gogh's "Vase with Twelve Sunflowers." (All paintings from Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

I did not grow up in an artistic household. We had one fake oil painting of the ocean in our living room, a few fake Hummel figures from my grandmother, and some portraits of Jesus. The only museum we visited was the Hagley Museum, to admire the chemical creativity of the early DuPonts, and from my home in Wilmington, Delaware, the big gritty city of Philadelphia seemed impossibly remote. It wasn’t until I came home from college in the summer that I decided to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art one gloomy Sunday afternoon.

The City of Brotherly Love built a veritable temple to Art in 1928.

After three hours of walking through the cavernous, glorious galleries, I was staggering from a sheer overload of beauty, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art introduced me to the seditious inventiveness of Marcel Duchamp (I burst out laughing when I saw “Nude Descending a Staircase” and “Fountain”), the evocative and haunting minimalism of Constantin Brancusi and Paul Giacometti, the walloping impact of Anselm Kiefer’s huge, raw canvases, the thick emotions in Van Gogh‘s brushstrokes, and the lyrical lushness of Thomas Eakins’ American portraits.

Matisse's "Odalisque with Yellow Persian Robe & Anemones."

I even fell in love with the incredible American collection of furniture, silver and decorative arts (so not my thing) on a school project with my daughter. And one of my fondest memories was visiting Shocking!” The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli in 2005 with Lulu, my friend Ginger and her four girls–and going to the incredible Cezanne show in 1996 and walking around in a daze of delight, all by myself.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art was led by the legendary, beloved Anne d’Harnoncourt from 1982 until her death in 2008—the only woman to run a museum with a budget over $25 million. Nearly 6’ tall, elegant and visionary, she elevated the profile of the museum with modern acquisitions and spectacular shows, while artfully renovating galleries built in 1928 and managing the museum’s 300,000 works of art. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine PMOA without her, but I’m hoping for the best.

Picasso's luminous sketch for "Demoiselles d'Avignon."

Brancusi's Bird in Space

The eternal question about art is when people are starving, is it still valid to spend your money supporting beauty? Luckily, I can do both – and it’s my passionate belief that art enriches the soul and celebrates our common humanity. For enriching my poverty-stricken artistic soul, my $100 today goes to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Education fund, to be sure that the museum remains accessible to all children and young adults. (Sundays are Pay as You Wish Day – yay!) To join me, click here!

** Quote is from Constantin Brancusi. Happy Hanukkah, Everyone!

5 thoughts on ““It is pure joy I am giving you.”

  1. Especially in these times we certainly do need art. It enriches us as you said. People need to be able to create and see and appreciate art.
    Thanks for sharing all these wonderful artworks!

  2. Betty honey, this is gorgeous. I LOVE this kind of stuff – looks like we have similar tastes too. Since I only found you recently, I look out for each post with relish since you’re “closing down” at the end of Dec.

    Art touches the soul I think and I don’t need a rainy day to go the a museum. I’m discovering a new kind of art here in the caribbean.

    You are doing a fantastic job girl!

    Thank you

  3. Beautiful post, Betty, filled with thoughtful ideas and gorgeous images. I’ve always wondered at the capacity people have — including, and maybe especially, people who are poor and struggling — to create incredible works of art. It’s very possible, as you have shown, to support both. One way is to simply buy the art those people are producing.

  4. Thanks for all that you have done this year. Your Blog has taken me to places that I otherwise would have never seen or even known about.
    I hope that the year was as rewarding for you as it has been for me .
    I wish all of your readers and you a very Happy Holiday. This is a season of GIVING gifts, whether they be man hours, sharing, volunteering or donations.
    For all of us who can, we should.
    Skip a latte, or a movie. That little bit that you save and donate to any cause, can go a long way in changing a person’s life.
    Bob Lundsten

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