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a fresh coat of paint

January 8, 2010

[NYTimes] Color changes everything. It has, anyway, in the East Gallery of the Frick Collection, where walls covered with brown velvet since the Johnson administration now glow a beautiful shade of coral. The paintings appear to be freshly restored. They’re not. They simply benefit from the soft velvet coral, which sharpens details, brightens colors, clarifies compositions and deepens meanings. Suddenly this room stuns, becoming as never before one of the Frick’s destination galleries.

The East Gallery’s refurbishment also includes upgraded lighting and the addition of a large, comfortable cushioned bench. A good thing, since Frick-obsessed art lovers may need a seat when they realize that two of the museum’s best-known canvases have been relocated from their usual positions on the dark green velvet walls of the grand, emblematic West Gallery. These are El Greco’s “Vincenzo Anastagi,” an early portrait of an Italian war hero from the 1570s, and “The Forge,” the most developed of Goya’s late dark paintings, an hommage to common labor, from 1815-20. They’ve never looked better. (read)

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