Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Art of the Steal

Does a film continue to pop up in your Netflix recommendations, but you ignore it, only to find out later what you had been missing all that time? Nearing (hopefully) the end of a week long illness and bored out of my ever loving mind, I finally decided to watch The Art of the Steal. Wowza! While I've been trained in the library and archival sciences, I'm a novice to museum culture and am turned off by the elitism that exists in the art world. While the film took an obvious point of view (with many points I will research further), what struck me as an archivist was Barnes' will which had stipulations that seemed to be restrictive, unsustainable, and unrealistic. Is anti-elitism an elitism in itself? Watch the movie and decide for yourself.

Here's the film's synopsis:

An un-missable look at one of the art world's most fascinating controversies and a celebrated selection of the Toronto, New York and AFI Film Festivals, Don Argott's gripping documentary THE ART OF THE STEAL chronicles the long and dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of art valued at more than $25 billion.

In 1922, Dr. Albert C. Barnes formed a remarkable educational institution around his priceless collection of art, located just five miles outside of Philadelphia. Now, more than 50 years after Barnes' death, a powerful group of moneyed interests have gone to court for control of the art, and intend to bring it to a new museum in Philadelphia. Standing in their way is a group of Barnes' former students and his will, which contains strict instructions stating the Foundation should always be an educational institution, and that the paintings may never be removed. Will they succeed, or will a man's will be broken and one of America's greatest cultural monuments be destroyed?

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