Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Art of the Construction Fence

Construction of the future home of the Barnes Foundation art gallery

The Art of the Construction Fence


At construction sites around the world, fences and scaffolding have been turned into canvases for the temporary display of public art.

To illustrate a story on fund-raising for the Barnes Foundation art gallery’s move from its original home in suburban Merion, I photographed the construction fences around the new site on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Facing the museum "front" along the Parkway are long, curved signs displaying reproductions of Barnes' paintings and objects. On the other side of the huge construction hole, more reproductions, by the city's Mural Arts Program, along Pennsylvania Avenue.

A portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes painted by Giorgio de Chirico (1926, oil on canvas).

A grouping of Pierre-Auguste Renoir oils (the tree is hiding a Paul Cézanne).

Puddle reflection of another Renoir - a detail of his Noirmoutier (1892, oil on canvas).

That's the G. Fred DiBona, Jr. Building (Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower) beyond the mural.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
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About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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