The Art of the Steal

Last night, Homey and I went to see, The Art of the Steal, a documentary about moving the Barnes Collection from periphery to downtown in Philadelphia, and we both really loved it. Good story telling. Andy, die-hearted supporter of the underdog and loyal unto death, is in outrage: I don’t know what I think.** The film-makers have their opinions, but the movie really does make you think a lot about a whole bunch of policy and planning issues, like:

1. the commodification of the art experience, art and culture as big business
2. civic boosters
3. a land use conflict! Over parking! Whee!
4. celebrity bureaucrats
5. obscure estate laws and trusts
6. philanthropists behaving badly!
7. Julian Bond, looking fabulous for his age, and
8. Philadelphia city politics, and Pennsylvania gubernatorial politics, which have always defied my comprehension.

**I do think that if you are the Pew Charitable Trust and you basically wrest control of $30 billion in art from an HBCU with chump change, that by definition makes you a poophead, no matter how much “public good” you think are accomplishing by showing more art to more people.


Opening in Los Angeles on Friday March 12th

At The Landmark in WLA, Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, Town Center in Encino, Playhouse in Pasadena, and South Coast Village in Costa Mesa from IFC Films.

Filmmaker Q+A’s at The Landmark on Friday and Saturday nights following the 7:20pm screening.

An un-missable look at one of the art world’s most fascinating controversies. A celebrated selection of the Toronto, New York and AFI Film Festivals, Don Argott’s gripping documentary “THE ART OF THE STEAL” chronicles the ongoing dramatic struggle for control of the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of art valued at more than $25 billion. Will one of America’s greatest cultural monuments be destroyed?

View the film’s trailer:

-Bruce Diones, The New Yorker

“Terrifically suspenseful and enlightening. The forces of art and money square off with primal ferocity.”
-Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

“Deeply reported and enormously entertaining.”
-Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

“ENGROSSING…a totally involving story about the exploitation of art and the thorny entanglement of culture, capitalism and politics.”
-Anthony Kaufman, indieWIRE