The real controversy surrounding the Barnes Collection should not be the move to central Philadelphia but whether Barnes has done violence to the works of art he briefly owned or has enhanced them. Jerry Saltz tackles that question:
As much as I love the Barnes, I don’t want any other museum on Earth installed this way. No matter how greatly you admire it, you have to admit that the artists who made this art might be horrified by how their works have been used. I imagine the ghost of Georges Seurat trying to remove his giant masterpiece series “Models” from its spot eight feet above the floor. (I picture Renoir’s ghost hovering nearby, gloating, and I flinch a little.)
Yet the madman was onto something. In one gallery I boggled at a Ptolemaic-period Egyptian bas-relief of a woman squatting with her knees facing one direction, her trunk seen full on, her head facing another. Then I saw the Egyptian pose in Matisse’s monumentally powerful 1907 Red Madras Headdress, picturing a woman in the richest blue-and-maroon dress ever. Then it recurred in several Modigliani portraits, then abstractly in a Cézanne still life seen simultaneously from left, right, above, below, and straight on. Then it all exploded in Picasso’s 1907 proto-Cubist portrait of a woman whose presence would end up squatting like the Egyptian figure in his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. That never would have happened anywhere but here.
The Philadelphia Story (New York Magazine)