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.
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.
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.
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!