CATEGORIES Documentary, Independent, IFC, Cinematical Indie, Trailers and Clips, Trailers and Clips, CinematicalOpening today in select theaters and now playing on-demand through participating cable services, Don Argott's The Art of the Steal is a riveting documentary about the "theft" of a $25 billion art collection. It's my favorite doc of the year so far -- maybe even my current favorite film of 2010 (I know, it's still early in the year) -- and I've been recommending it like crazy to friends, family, Cinematical readers and anybody with even a minor interest in the art world. You may have noticed I devoted this week's Doc Talk column to a discussion of the film, too. Now I'm happy to share an exclusive clip from the film for you all, in the hope that it will further inspire you to check this doc out.
Here's the basic premise: Albert C. Barnes collected a whole bunch of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, early Modern and African art in the first half of the 20th century, back when the U.S. art establishment hadn't really embraced such artists as Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh and other now-considered Masters. Now, sixty years following his accidental death, the very critics, aristocrats, politicians and other establishment representatives he hated, have gotten their hands on his collection and will soon open a new museum displaying the pieces -- against the wishes of Barnes and the stipulations set in his will.
The documentary follows the history of the Barnes Foundation through its David-and-Goliath type struggle to protect the man's legacy and collection from its many enemies (and pseudo-villains) and the debate it has provoked. I guarantee you'll have a lot to talk about once the film is over (you should share your thoughts over at the Doc Talk post).
The clip below features a number of the film's talking heads discussing one of the attempts at a sale of the Foundation's art collection and the reasons why such an idea "isn't discussable."