Monday, February 8, 2016

Harry Sefarbi, RIP. A Link to Barnes.

A friend had told me about Harry. Great painter, great teacher - learned from The Man himself. Or, as I wrote in a May 2007 column, a "sweet, canny link to the quirky, tyrannical Dr. Albert C. Barnes."

Harry Sefarbi, RIP. A Link to Barnes.


A friend had told me about Harry. Great painter, great teacher, great character - learned from The Man himself. Or, as I wrote in a May 2007 column, a "sweet, canny link to the quirky, tyrannical Dr. Albert C. Barnes."

When Harry Sefarbi, then just shy of his 90th birthday, answered the door of his Powelton Village home, he must have sensed my shock.

He was a sight - he wore a big patch high on the middle on his forehead, as if he sported a third eye, four layers of shirts, topped by a pointed cap that lent an elfin look, Harry was dealing with vision problems, which were no small thing, given he'd devoted the past 50-plus years to teaching art lovers how to really see.

That same friend e-mailed this morning, the morning of Harry's funeral. Harry died Monday, at age 92. He leaves his wife of 54 years, Ruth, a daughter, a grandson, a sister and a brother.

He was born in Chester in 1917, went to teachers college, then the war in France and took courses from Barnes and his collaborator, Violette de Mazia, at age 40. Three years later the quirky collector wrote Harry: would he sell Barnes one of his portraits?

Harry made $100 on the oil painting, which Barnes hung over a door in Room IX, by the Renoirs and the Rousseaus.

For 54 years Harry taught the Barnes method at the Foundation in Merion. He was not a fan of its planned move, and appeared in the new documentary about the controversy, "The Art of the Steal."

I take no credit for it, but after my column ran, another fine publication caught onto Harry.

At the end of my short course in the Sefarbi Method, I talked with some of Harry students, one of whom provided me with one of my favorite end quotes:

"If you think you understand this," he said, "you're wrong. "

Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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