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Philadelphia Art Museum and Rocky

April 4, 2008


Today I spent at the Philadelphia Art Museum. The building is absolutely immense with three pediments reminiscent of Greco-Roman architecture. The West façade is undergoing restoration and so is covered in canvas panels advertising the Frida Kahlo exhibit. One of the statues outside is Rocky—and people lined up to take their photograph standing next to that statute all with their hands in the air like boxing champs. People were so polite—and offered to take group pictures for complete strangers—and I took pictures of them!


The Frida Kahlo exhibit included many of her paintings. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, she was a favorite model for photographers and would spend hours fixing her hair in a style suggestive of certain localities. Sometimes she would weave yarn or flowers into it. Her husband, Diego Rivera, was a famous muralist and significantly older than she. Of particular note—I think Rivera painted the murals I saw in Santa Engracia’s lobby (the weavers) and in the kitchen (cooks).


Another fascinating exhibit was William Kentridge. His work is about apartheid and so is primarily black and white. I’ve seen some of his work before but it was just two or three samples, this was an entire gallery filled with tapestries. The backgrounds were assorted maps—I’m sure there was significance to the map chosen. The figures were his signature black puppet like torn paper. 


An entire gallery was devoted to Marcel Duchamp—replicas of his ready-mades—the urinal, the bicycle wheel, and paintings—and the one I really wanted to see—Nude Descending a Staircase. It was a surprisingly small piece—only 20 inches by 30 or so.


The museum has expanded to another building across the street. A collection of Ansel Adams was on display—and as always his work is so elegant.


Next was a walk to Rodin’s Museum. Here I got to see a replica of Rodin’s tomb in Paris complete with ‘The Thinker’, the Burghers of Calais, and all of his wonderful hands. I almost passed this museum up, thinking I should see something historical instead—but the Burghers of Calais was so wonderful—so full of pathos—


Logan’s square was the site of public executions and is one of three original public spaces proposed by Benjamin Franklin that still remains. Flags flutter from every lamp post on both of the roadway. George Washington sits overlooking the hill and facing Independence Hall.


The opening of Art Quilt Elements was at the Wayne Art Center and was packed with people. The quilts were an interesting survey of all the styles possible. I feel rather sad that I did not even submit a piece—but I haven’t done any work in months.


WordPress has changed the procedure for uploading photos and I just have not figured it out. My photos of the art museum are at




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