Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Art of the Steal: A Review


Dr. Albert Barnes was a working class guy, who went to Pennsylvania University by boxing, who amassed a pharmaceutical fortune and assembled a huge impressionist art collection. Dr. Barnes hated the Philadelphia establishment and wanted his collection kept intact and out of Philadelphia. 

The film tries to make it a Republican -Democrat thing (Barnes was a New Deal Democrat and he spared in his life with Nixon's pal Walter Annenberg). Truth is the cultural world wanted this collection and lined up to undermine Dr. Barnes intent.  Ed Rendell (Democrat governor) and Mike Fisher (A Republican who converted to Democrat attorney general) put pressure to take over the collection.  

Ultimately, a cabal of the powers in Pennsylvania undermined Dr. Barnes's will and essentially stole the collection and moved the art to Philadelphia. By the end of this film you wish Dr. Barnes could come back from the grave and beat the shit out of Ed Rendell.  

You can look at it as Schadenfreude. This sort of in-flighting is so establishment and you see it all the time on so many levels with the GOPe and Democrats. Ultimately, shouldn't a guy's intentions (who collected the art in the first place) been honored? If they can do it to Barnes, they can do it to anyone. 

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