let the dead bury the dead

i saw the art of the steal.  it’s another documentary with boring, unspecific music, archival footage (treated to look even archival-er) and loads of interviews.  this one about how the city of philadelphia (or rather, philadelphia elite including politicians and power brokers as well as certain “charitable” institutions like the pew) stole this dead guys art collection. that is estimated to be worth 25 billion dollars.

my initial question: how can a ghost own private property?

(ghosts, i guess, can have private property provided they created a will prior becoming a ghost (as in death).)

the most interesting thing about the art of the steal is what’s missing.  namely, the actual art that was stolen.  i mean there are tons of home-videos of barnes and his dog, but only a couple of frames in the movie feature the actual art collected in the barnes collection.  so there’s a lot of talk about art being stolen, but few examples of the art that was actually stolen.

unless, barnes is the artist who had his artwork stolen.  when talking about barnes, it’s repeated that what makes barnes’ collection great is his greatness as a collector and arranger of art.  not only did he have what they call an eye for great modernist art, but more importantly, he arranged the pieces in the barnes foundation in a specific way so that the different pieces of art enter into a kind of communication with each other.  so barnes is the artist of the barnes foundation and that seems to be the art everyone is so upset about being stolen rather than the actual picassos and matisses.

when one of the interviewees says something like, “this is the worst theft of art since ww2,” he obviously forgot about the first month of the invasion of iraq where most of the art(ifacts) in baghdad’s museum, featuring some of the oldest art(ifacts) around, where stolen thanks to the chaos created by the shock and awe campaign (or, if you prefer, the shock and awe installation piece).

i dont know.  i mostly thought the art of the steal was boring and pointless.  but if you want a good movie to watch, watch who are you, polly magoo?


Filed under Brian

2 responses to “let the dead bury the dead

  1. I actually really wanted to see this but missed it when it played briefly in my town. That’s too bad it doesn’t actually highlight the art itself, since that’s kind of the point of the whole thing. I really enjoy art documentaries though so I’ll probably catch it on DVD, but good to be aware beforehand that it might be way boring!

  2. brian

    it would have been more interesting if their would have been any focus on the actual pieces in the barnes collection. instead, all anyone could talk about was the how much money the collection was worth.

    but maybe i was hard on the film because i didnt see the point in caring that some dead billionaire had his paintings stolen by a bunch of other billionaires.

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