Last night I watched The Art of the Steal (2010), which is a documentary about the trust and legendary art collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, founder of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA. Tragically, after Barnes’ death in 1951, his trust indenture was, article by article, disregarded. Against his explicit stipulations, the collection has been loaned to museums around the world, finagled out of the hands of Lincoln University, and is currently the process of being moved to a new facility on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where it can generate more tourism for the city of Philadelphia. It is a truly upsetting tale and I suggest this documentary to anyone who has an interest in art.
For those of you who don’t know, the Barnes Foundation is arguably the world’s most significant collection of modern art. Barnes curated this collection lovingly over many years, amassing paintings by Renoir (181), Cézanne (69), Matisse (59), Picasso (46), Modigliani (16), and many others at the forefront of the art historical world. At the time Barnes began collecting art (with money he earned from developing the antiseptic Argyrol), post-impressionistic art was believed to be frivolous rather than progressive. When it was realized what a gem the collection was, Philadelphians were outraged that Barnes would not share his collection with the public. (It was accessible predominately to students and individuals with a true passion for art.) After his death, the foundation was at the mercy of politicians and power-hungry organizations, namely the Pew Charitable Trust, who apparently could equate the value of the collection to nothing but dollar signs.
So, to anyone who would like to see the collection in its rightful home, I would recommend visiting the Barnes Foundation ASAP. By 2012, all of Barnes’ art will have been moved to the Parkway. Check the website to see when it’s open. I believe you have to make a reservation.
*This film is available on Netflix instant play to anyone who is interested/has an account.
Huge big yay! So excited yet again, we just can’t help it. Belle & Sebastian are pretty much my favoritest favorite band, and have been for well close to 15 years. So, we’re beyond-all-reason-honored and thrilled to have been able to design and hand screenprint their limited edition 2010 United Kingdom Tour promotional show poster (our 4th poster for the lovelies from Glasgow).