Sean Beaudoin

Enough excellent writing to fill a large tube sock

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Movie Review

Art of the Steal dir. Don Argott —

This is a pretty fascinating documentary about the Barnes Foundation, located outside Philadelphia, which is probably the most fantastic private art collection in the world. Or at least it was. Back in the twenties, Albert Barnes bought Renoirs, Picassos, Cezannes, and Matisses at a time when they were still considered "primitive" art, and displayed them in an idiosyncratic manner in a building on his estate. His premise was that art should be used for teaching, not profit or status, and founded a school around his collection, greatly restricting public access. Since his death, however, pretty much every carpetbagger and charlatan has been trying to get his hands on the works, now valued at 25 billion dollars. Yes, billion. Even though I was sympathetic with the cause, this documentary is pretty one-sided, and essentially makes an impassioned case for the collection not being moved into a larger and more public space in the city. Albert Barnes' will has no doubt been circumvented, which certainly seems wrong, but is it the end of the world? He did not leave a clear path to the execution of preferences, and, unsurprisingly, money won out over ethics. In any case, the collection is still intact and can be viewed by anyone. A tragedy it is not.

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