In 1922, a formerly blue-collar pharmacist named Dr. Albert C. Barnes used his newly acquired millions to create a most unusual art museum in South Merion, a small suburb near Philadelphia. With no previous exposure to the art world, Barnes made brave purchases based on his own tastes rather than those of the respected art institutions, acquiring artists unknown or unpopular among elite American society at the time, including Picasso, Monet, Manet, Matisse, and Cezanne. Barnes amassed what later came to be known as the largest and most significant collection of Impressionist, Postimpressionist, and Modernist art in the entire world. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia art scene failed to notice its importance, laughing his one public exhibition out of town, and leaving him with a lasting chip on his shoulder about “the man.”
Click here to read the rest of Farihah Zaman’s review of The Art of the Steal.