Saturday 26 Jul

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · 'The Art of the Steal' superbly...

'The Art of the Steal' superbly documents the loss and gain of a massive art collection

Kathryn Jenson White May 13th, 2010

The lessons in "The Art of the Steal" aren't like those generally found in made-for-TV documentaries like those on the Discovery Channel or, even, PBS stations supported by viewers like you.Don't be m...

The lessons in "The Art of the Steal" aren't like those generally found in made-for-TV documentaries like those on the Discovery Channel or, even, PBS stations supported by viewers like you.

Don't be mislead by that. Don Argott's ("Rock School") compelling film about the transfer of The Barnes Collection of art from its home in Merion, Pa., to The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents insights aplenty into animal behavior and documents historical events just as do "Ants: Nature's Secret Power," "Mt St. Helens: Back from the Dead" and "Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World."

Bottom line, however " and in this case, the figure on that bottom line is about $25 billion " it's more like "Macbeth" than any of those worthy TV documentaries. It features greed and power struggles and the desire for (art) world dominance as its themes, and it has a cast of villains and heroes worthy of the Bard.

It screens Friday-Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

The story begins when Dr. Albert C. Barnes established The Barnes Foundation in 1922 to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine art." He had become very wealthy after developing a compound called Argyrol, used as a treatment for VD. He invested his wealth in a collection of art that eventually included 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes and 59 Matisses.

That's the "art" of the film's title.

Before his death in 1951, Barnes created what he seems to have thought was an ironclad will, dictating that his collection forevermore be housed in the beautiful setting he created for it in its Philly suburb. He bequeathed control of it to Lincoln University, a small African-American college because, according to the film, he scorned the more obvious place for it, The Philadelphia Museum of Art; the elitist art establishment of Philadelphia; and, above all, the Annenberg family (owners of The Philadelphia Enquirer) and its powerful control of the city's art.

One of the reasons for what seems to be his bone-deep despising of all the above was the conservative museum's and newspaper's early dismissal of his collection as full of artists not worthy of the walls inside the imposing neoclassical Greek building made famous by Rocky Balboa's run to the top of its 72 steps.

Despite his legal efforts, however, the powers that be have managed to effect what Barnes explicitly said he did not want to happen: the movement of the collection from Merion to Philadelphia and its control by the major museum.

That's the "steal" of the film's title.

The story of what happened and why is fascinating from the beginning to now, when construction on the collection's new home in Philly is under way. Poor stewardship, greedy people, a suburban neighborhood overwhelmed and the consuming desire of the art establishment to control what it now sees, of course, as one of the world's most desirable collections of paintings, sculptures and more are the stuff of this story.

That's the "art" of the "steal" and of this superb film. "Kathryn Jenson White
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