This week’s DVD pick is Don Argott’s “The Art of the Steal,” a documentary centered on the ongoing art world scandal involving the Barnes collection. It doesn’t matter if you’re not much of an art enthusiast. You’ve likely been to a museum or two, and this film will possibly change how you look at such institutions. I’ve compared my own personal conflict, as inspired by this doc, to when I was first explained the pros and cons of zoos as a child. Of course, art isn’t alive, but some people seem to care more about it than they would a living creature.
Argott takes a definite side in the Barnes debate, which concerns the fight over the 9,000 piece collection of the late Albert C. Barnes, but his film still left me somewhat undecided. And since my initial viewing I’ve also continued thinking about my stance on the protection of legacies and the honoring of a person’s last will and testament. It’s not necessary for me to reveal this current stance here, though I’m open to chat more about it down below with anyone who watches the film. So if you’re looking for something to spark a discussion, rent “The Art of the Steal” with your favorite art museum companion.
Also, see this if you like documentaries with fascinating characters, particularly villains, of which there are many (in the context of the film), revealed one after the other, Matryoshka-like. It’s an intellectual heist flick. It’s a David vs. Goliath story with a hip, punk sort of attitude and soundtrack. And if you need a follow-up to “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “My Kid Could Paint That” and “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack” to keep your thoughts in motion on the good, the bad and the ambiguous regarding the art world, I don’t think you’ll find better.