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Garden of Eden

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Jessica Bernal

ESEM- Play in The City


In the Garden of Eden


      It’s quiet and rigid; I’m walking in an architect’s wet dream. This isn’t a place for the people to learn about art, it’s a showcase for the pompous and wealthy to wander and critique at their leisure. I feel like I’m invading someone’s space, someone’s dream. It doesn’t feel right, I don’t feel welcomed and the clack clack clack noise my boots make gets louder and louder as I walk further inside The Barnes Foudation.

      The superfluous smell of oil pastels pull me in, I feel like a tracking dog searching all over the place for more of that intriguing sweet smell. It’s what pulls me in to a room full of paintings, antique furniture, and jewelry of the best caliber because rather than being adorned with diamonds or gold, they’re embellished with a rich story, each piece bringing culture together.

      I’m walking in complete admiration once I’ve entered the halls filled with the paintings. In the first room, I can’t stop staring at Matisse’s Dancing piece and the only reason why I’ve decided to keep looking around the room to the other paintings is because my neck started to hurt. The paintings surrounding me are definitely nothing like what I’ve seen else where, but they still feel wrong, out of place.

      Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ” Albert Barnes’ collection is really “the Disney land of art” like The Art of Steal movie mentions. The pieces capture the beauty in the ordinary moments of life, it’s not that life is art but art is life. Barnes’ specifically chose and collected pieces that captured the little things we oversee in life. We’re so focused on finding the purpose and beauty in life when really we should be paying closer attention to what we have right in front of us. The human body is an exquisite piece of art. As I’d walk through the halls, I couldn’t help but over hear people over analyzing, critiquing technique and color, and comparing Barnes’s collection, in which they were verbally burning to pieces, to other famous art collections.

      I felt overwhelmed by the immense number of people walking around. I couldn’t fully enjoy my experience without hearing a condescending comment or without someone saying something like, “Oh Goodness, you should see Picasso’s pieces in El Prado!” I went anywhere in the building to find a little less chaos and came across the one piece most observed from the distance, but as for me, it tangled me with it’s vibrant colors, Bonheur de Vivre, by Matisse.

      I’d walk through the Barne’s Foundation twice, through both floors, and found none that intrigued me like Bonheur de Vivre on the second floor. I spent my thirty minutes sitting in the center of the piece on that cold wooden floor losing myself into that paradise, in that Garden of Eden where no shame or coyness permitted through the canvas.

      Matisso uses the nature of our bodies to break all standards of beauty. Nudity is intimate and provocative. Who wouldn’t be allured, the curves our bodies form fascinate the human eye. The human body who fancies in nature and becomes one with it by stripping to its innocence is far more alluring and proves to have far more power, confidence, and control than a man or woman varnished in expensive jewelry and clothing that only hides the beauty of our naked bodies.

      The moment you stop worrying what people think of you is the moment you’re really enjoying life and Bonheur de Vivre demonstrates by how the bodies in their nudity, with no shame, as they relish in life and in nature as one of the women in the left showers herself in leaves. They are tied to nothing and they’re open to every emotion in love and passion. The bodies take delight in each other’s company as they prance and dance to the vibrant colors in their atmosphere.

      The Barnes’ Collection is more than just approaching them as pieces of art, it’s about admiring them and noticing that texture, color, and the people being drawn all have something to say, it’s not just coincidence. Our lives, our human structure and the nature that wraps itself in our world is not just coincidence, it all holds a purpose rather than wanting to find explanations and over indulge in luxuries.


Works Consulted

The Art of the steal. Dir. Don Argott. MAJ Productions, 2009. Film.

"Quotes About Simplicity." (213 quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <>.


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