Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Sometimes repetition is good for the soul. There's no doubt that I will be telling people for a very long time to sit down and watch this documentary, particularly if you're from the Philadelphia area. Or looking to avoid the legions and legions of terrible horror films that are outpouring in the theaters.

The Art of the Steal is about the continuous efforts to break the will of Dr. Albert C Barnes and relocate the infamous Barnes collection from its long, long time home in Lower Merion to the city of Philadelphia. To give you a little bit of history on the Barnes collection, the Foundation possesses more than 2,500 objections including paintings from the likes of Renoir, Matisse, Goya, Greco, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, oh god, Prendergast - the list is incredible and these 800-so paintings are estimated (and estimated to be worth about $25 billion dollars). That's not all. The collection is not limited to these names, but grows with the likes of a variety of African artworks, ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, and American and European decorative arts and metalwork. The entire idea of it is just mind-boggling and overwhelming to behold.

I think Roger Ebert says it best in his review of the film, "It is perfectly clear exactly what Barnes specified in his will. It was drawn up by the best legal minds. It is clear that what happened to his collection was against his wishes. It is clear that the city fathers acted in obviation of those wishes, and were upheld in a court of appeals. What is finally clear: It doesn't matter a damn what your will says if you have $25 billion, and politicians and the establishment want it." In short, be prepared to have your mind blown.

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