In any event, the new Barnes precisely preserves the idiosyncratic installation of what has justifiably been called the world's greatest private collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern art, as well as the ethnographic works, antiquities, and decorative arts that Albert Barnes amassed.
When the late southern decorative arts expert and author John Bivins Jr. published his 1968 book on early North Carolina firearms, he noted that, "among surviving implements...of early America and the South, few art forms have stirred the imagina¬tion more than the American longrifle."1 Created by craftsmen working in rural communities, long rifles could be objects of both beauty and utility on the early American frontier.
How do we account for the strangeness of Andrew Wyeth's art of the 1940s? How, that is, beyond discerning the surrealist undertones, finding the magic realist affinities, or seeing that Wyeth followed in a Brandywine tradition whose oddity was firmly established by Howard Pyle.
Its name, the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, pretty well covers what this singular institution in San Marino, California, is all about. But it hardly begins to tell the story.