Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.Documentary that follows the struggle for control of Dr. Albert C. Barnes' 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art.
While there's no question the tactics used by those in power are sleazy, the film also ignores what I consider a key issue: Is it really such a bad thing that one of the most amazing collections of modern art be much more accessible to the public, even if it violates the will of a man with no heirs who has been dead over 50 years? At what point do old grudges - going both ways - count less than art belonging to the world? I'm not saying there are neat answers to such questions, but the film acts like there's no moral murkiness at all.
Similarly the film uses questionable tactics to argue its case. For example it's constantly stating how those on the 'other side' refuse to be interviewed. Yet, it is clear that the ideology of the film-makers is known to all involved -- the film is financed by one of the leaders of the group fighting against the collections movement, and guards at a gathering of those planning the art move know not to allow in this specific film crew, even mentioning their production company name. If you knew you a film was being made whose basic premise is that you're a swindler a cheat and a thief with no respect for art, would you agree to be interviewed?
Additionally, some of those who seem so calm and well reasoned while being interviewed and arguing the art should be left where it is, seem a little less impressive when you see them outside that same gathering screaming 'philistines!' at those going inside.
None-the less, I still enjoyed the film, and there's no question it does a good job exposing the fact that many of our biggest public trusts and charitable institutions have a lot going on besides 'acting in the public interest', and are willing to play dirty pool to get what they want. I just find it hard to see this as a case of moral outrage to rank with the Iraq war, or starving children, or the U.S. educational crisis. It's basically rich people hating on rich people. Fun, but not as nutritious as all that.
- Nov 9, 2014