The Art of the Steal (2009)
Director: Don Argott
the story of the barnes art collection. 30ish billion dollars worth of modern and post- impressionist art, collected for the love and respect of it. stolen by the american aristos for their greediness and dollar signs, in a completely tragic and underhanded way.
The Woman (though i may have to watch this again with moster because it's that good)
i have a healthy disdain for the upper crust and their bullshit, and this just played right into that. the fact that this actually happened is appalling and unfortunately, unsurprising. the way the documentary presents this is an awesome curmudgeon collected all this fabulous art in the 20's and told the museum world to suck it when they caught on to the fact that these were actually masterpieces. and the last 30 years have been spent, in direct violation of his will and trust, legally stealing the art from where it was intended to be forever. i guess it's a good reminder that the man is very hard to beat with his piles of money and political power. he can do whatever he wants with your stuff, especially after you've died.
i actually had a hard time paying attention towards the end because my mind had been blown by the injustice of it. i kept thinking back to the "herb and dorothy" documentary and how the theme in that was art for the people, and sharing your collection as an homage to art history, but if this guy didn't want the jerks in power to see his collection and only opened his doors to the public every once and awhile that's his prerogative. he collected this work, he gets to decide, even after he's gone the ultimate fate of what happens to it. he doesn't owe the public anything. he could have burnt it if he wanted to. i'm getting outraged again...
essentially, dr. barnes had an ongoing feud with the uptight, nixon loving, owner of the philidelphia inquirer, and unfortunately, was outlived a long shot by this douche. douche wriggled his way, and got exactly what he wanted, exactly the opposite of what douches wishes for his own art collection after his death. douche.
there are some great moments of outrage in this. where i giggled outloud in solidarity with the people fighting the man. things like yelling "philistines!" to the philidelphia elite celebrating their pirated booty, in the middle of a sentence for an interview.
in closing, i just want to say to governor rendell and philidelphia "fuck you, you assholes!" i hope all your shit gets stolen.
This was a decent doc. I'd like to think that I take a slightly different approach to documentaries in that I have little difficulty differentiating the style of the presentation, the quality of the information presented, and the impact of that information. As with much of the "better" media we consume--I'm referring specifically to the Red Riding films at the moment--this just serves to show how fucked up and corrupt the system when you get much past the local level.
The style itself started out as unbearable but it calmed down nicely. While the film had a clear point of view on the information it presented, it did give screen time to the opposing viewpoint; and the fact that many people declined to present their opposing view only served to reinforce the validity of the point being made.
There's a third view which wasn't presented at all, and that's because neither party in the debate as shown would agree with it. That's the notion that ownership is antithetical to art. I'd like to have seen that discussed at least a little here.
I agree that (as usual) a great injustice was done to someone who went to great length to protect his vision, but I'm not sure if I agree with my esteemed counterpart that we should boycott the resulting travesty. In fact, I'm not sure that he'd want us to (providing that we could do it without giving the assholes any money, of course).