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photograph of the entry of Alexey Brodovitch: Astonish Me at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia
photograph of the entry of Alexey Brodovitch: Astonish Me at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia
Original photo by Emma Prushan
Culture > Entertainment

“Astonish Me”: Alexey Brodovitch at the Barnes Foundation

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Jefferson chapter.

I have been eagerly awaiting going to see the new Alexey Brodovitch exhibit “Astonish Me” for over a month since its March 3rd opening at the Barnes Foundation. Finally, I was able to visit this exhibit on Friday, April 5, taking advantage of the Barnes’ exclusive First Friday evening hours.
Brodovitch was a prominent Russian-born graphic designer, instructor, illustrator, and photographer, most active from the 1930s to the late 1950s. He was best known for his art direction of Harper’s Bazaar, and his inclusion of bold fashion photography from up-and-coming modern photographers. Brodovitch was also known for his influential design classes in New York, and of course, Philadelphia. Alexey Brodovitch: Astonish Me follows Brodovitch’s career, from his early artistic experiments (even including a chair made with bungee cords) to the work of the photographers that he mentored.
I have had a love/hate relationship with the Barnes in the past, but this visit has definitely been my best experience in the museum to date. There was some confusion, with my friend and I spending an hour in the Target across the street because the museum oddly closed between 5 and 6 pm. However, we were excited to take advantage of our $5 tickets to the entire First Friday event, including full museum access, live music, and food and drinks. Because we had seen the full Barnes collection before (and we have homework to do as the semester wraps up), we decided to skip the main galleries, and instead focus on the main point of our trip: Astonish Me. Even without exploring the museum and all it has to offer, we both agreed that this exhibit was definitely worth the $5 entry fee. 

Showing off my design student snobbery a bit, I was incredibly impressed by the design of the exhibit and in love with its bold colors and typography. It was really cool to see pieces that I have been lectured about in art history courses first hand, seeing the wear and tear of a magazine spread over the years or the texture of the large printed photograph. You are led through Brodovitch’s career chronologically, and get to learn a little bit about some of his more famous collaborators. I can’t wait to do some more research on some of the artists and photographers I had never heard of before. The ambiance of the live music from UArts students definitely contributed to the experience as well, making me truly feel like the cultured Philadelphia resident I like to think of myself as.  

The Barnes Foundation is open Thursday through Monday 11 am to 1 pm and is located just off Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It is very accessible from Jefferson by bus as well! Students receive discounted tickets at $5 each, making it much cheaper and more accessible for students to view the collection. Alexey Brodovitch: Astonish Me is on display until May 19, making a visit to The Barnes the perfect way to finish off your semester!

Emma Prushan

Jefferson '25

Emma is a junior at Jefferson studying Visual Communication Design/Graphic Design. She serves as Senior Editor, Events Coordinator, and Graphic Designer of HerCampus Jefferson. In her free time, she enjoys reading, doing crafts, playing the guitar, and taking any opportunities to be creative!