Watch The Art of the Steal putlocker
||IMDB Rating: 7.6/10 from 1,823 votes
||Release: 12 September 2009 (Canada) /
||Director: Don Argott,
||Stars: Christopher Knight, David D'Arcy, Harry Sefarbi, Irv Nahan, John F. Street, Julian Bond, Nick Tinari, Richard Feigen, Richard H. Glanton, Robert Zaller, Ross L. Mitchell
||Synopsis: Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.
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"'The Art of the Steal' is a documentary that chronicles the long and
dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private
collection of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art valued at more
than $25 billion."--Film publicity.
Actually, it's $25-$35 billion. The value is really incalculable.
Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) was a Philadelphian of working-class
origins who used his fortune from an antiseptic compound called Argyrol
to collect: 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses (including his
commissioned, unique, Art of the Dance murals), 46 Picassos, 21
Soutines, 18 Rousseaus, 16 Modiglianis, 11 Degas, 7 Van Goghs, 6
Seurats, 4 Manets and 4 Monets. And these are quality, not just
quantity: they include some of the named artists' best works. For
Renoir, Cezanne, and Matisse, this collection is unique, and there may
be no other private collection of such work of this magnitude.
Barnes was a great collector. He was also famously cranky and
opinionated. He deeply and lastingly resented the fat cats of the city
of Philadelphia who mocked the work in his collection when it was first
shown. He chose to keep the collection away from those Philadelphian
fat cats. A friend of the philosopher and educational theorist John
Dewey, he built a museum in Merion, Pennsylvania (five miles from
Philadelphia) on his own land, a 12-acre Arboretum, and restricted
visits, running the Foundation as a teaching institution, which was his
main focus in life from the Twenties till his death in a car accident
in 1951. The collection was displayed as in a house, arranged with
furniture and decorations, in aesthetically pleasing (if rather
overly-symmetrical) groupings, rather than in the contemporary museum's
open space, white wall style.
Barnes' will specified that the collection must never be loaned out or
sold. His will put Lincoln University, a small black college, in charge
of the collection after his death.
For a long time the Foundation was run by a close follower of the
Barnes spirit, Violette de Mazia. But after she died in 1988,
gradually, and recently quite rapidly, the will has been abrogated, the
trust broken. In the Nineties, an ambitious man named Richard H.
Glanton, who was then in charge loaned the collection to various major
venues, including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and ending, ironically,
at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, ostensibly to raise money. More
recently a powerful nexus of politicians (the governor and the mayor of
Philadelphia), the Annenbergs, the Philidelphia Museum, and rich
charitable organizations, mainly the Pew Foundation, have worked not
only to get control away from Lincoln University but to move the whole
collection to a new building in the city of Philadelphia, where Barnes
emphatically did not want his collection to be.
The documentary focuses on and sides with the opposition to this
development. There was a court challenge to Judge Ott's decision
allowing the move, but he opted not to consider it and the opposition
has not appealed this decision.
That's the focus of the film. I confess to somewhat mixed feelings
about these complex issues. I grew up in Baltimore, where the Cone
sisters gave their extraordinary (if smaller) collection of similar
work to the Baltimore Museum of Art in the Fifties, so anyone could
look at it. But in those years, it was hard to get to see the Barnes
collection, and even after it was opened up (against Barnes' will) it
remained out of the way and so I've never seen it. In some sense it
seems better that it may now be viewed by a lot of people in
Philadelphia. Barnes shouldn't made a collection of this magnitude so
difficult of access. On the other hand, the fat cats have raped Barnes'
will and ignored his intentions. It has now been stolen away from its
original administrators and all Barnes' wishes have been willfully
violated. Two wrongs don't make a right. There was a problem, but this
is not the proper resolution.
Emotions run high among the talking heads; most of the principals
responsible for the latest, final takeover declined to be interviewed.
Biased though this film is, it has law and the rights of collectors on
its side. And it reveals some political funny business that would make
Michael Moore salivate. It's an ugly picture of art being turned into a
battle for power and money and exploited for political luster and
tourist potential. Instructive and disturbing.
An official selection of the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center,
shown earlier in the TIFF, the film now (Sept. 21, 2009) has been
picked up by a distributor, IFC.
Tags for The Art of the Steal Full Movie
, David D'Arcy
, Harry Sefarbi
, Irv Nahan
, John F. Street
, Julian Bond
, Nick Tinari
, Richard Feigen
, Richard H. Glanton
, Robert Zaller
, Ross L. Mitchell
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