The Art of the Steal is an acclaimed documentary currently in release. Don Argott follows the struggle for control of the late Dr. Albert C. Barnes’ 25 billion dollar collection of modern and post-impressionist art, as it is “legally” relocated from Barnes’ private Foundation in the suburbs as part of Philadelphia’s downtown revitalization project. As I write in Slant Magazine, it’s well worth a look.
We’ve got several worthwhile art documentaries hanging on our walls for inspection:
The Collector: Alan Stone’s Life in Art
The Collector explores the 46-year career of Allan Stone, the famed New York City gallery owner and art collector. Producer and director Olympia Stone reveals her father’s compulsive collecting genius while telling the parallel story of his lifelong journey through the art world from the 1950s to 2006. Viewers are taken on an extraordinary path inside one man’s obsessive submersion in art and its influence on the artists, art dealers and family members with whom he worked and lived.
“Fascinating for its nonstop parade of significant 20th-century art” – Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Times
Art City: Simplicity
Travelling around the country, Art City: Simplicity takes viewers on a revealing trip into the studios and lives of a group of singular artists. On a desert mesa outside Santa Fe, Richard Tuttle invents his mysterious and marvellously humble forms, made of wire, cardboard, wood. In Taos, Agnes Martin rhythmically repeats extremely simplified images. Near the Santa Monica surf, John Baldessari, aims for successful juxtapositions of photographs and text. In his North Hollywood living room, Robert Williams revels in surreal cartoon imagery. At a cabin in Woodstock, Joan Snyder refines her sensuous art amid a lush forest. Mike Bidlo salutes Duchamp in a SoHo Gallery, while on Sunset Boulevard, Amy Adler reclaims personal history through self-portraits. Through this group of memorable iconoclasts, the creative “act” is there to see and study. Along with writer Dave Hickey, and others, Simplicity addresses artists’ relations with the press, feelings about showing one’s work, distilling concepts into an essence, and what it means to succeed in the artworld.
Art City: A Ruling Passion
Many artists use the pain, exhilaration and resolution of private desires to express themselves. Art City: A Ruling Passion focuses on intense personalities who’ve used their art to explore the emotional impact of psychological truths. Everything that Louise Bourgeois creates – whether in marble, fabric or bronze – comes from memory. Michael Ray Charles investigates the marketing of black memorabilia, using early American advertising imagery. Elizabeth Peyton reinvents portraiture, using her friends as subjects, as well as pop culture royalty. Ed Ruscha’s literary landscapes burst from the physical world “right outside the window.” The comic spirit of Lari Pittman contrasts with his graphic declarations. In a landmark house, Richmond Burton remembers his dreams to build “psychic fields” of abstraction. The arrays of featureless faces by David Deutsch are stimulated by sub-conscious sensations. Along with writer Dave Hickey and others, A Ruling Passion plumbs issues that affect artists – preoccupations of startling universality – like community, motivation and controversy, finding one’s audience, and just “getting it right.” Music by Beck, Roy Ayers, Sakamoto, Claude Thornhill, Joey Altruda, Herbie Hancock.
Art City: Making It in Manhattan
Unlike any art movie you’ve ever seen, Making it in Manhattan is informed ‘entertainment’ about the people who make contemporary art. Artists, collectors, and dealers bring to life the art capital of the world, New York, as it plunges into the 21st Century. Presenting a cross-section of artists, the film discusses inspiration, aesthetics, and the meaning of success. With Louise Bourgeois, Brice Marden, Chuck Close, Neil Jenney, Elizabeth Murray, Ashley Bickerton, Gary Simmons, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Rirkrit Tiravanija, St. Clair Cemin, Ivan Karp, Jay Gorney, Matthew Marks, Jerry Saltz, Herb & Dorothy Vogel, and others. From abstraction to figuration, from installation to conceptual art, from the privacy of the doctor’s office to the posh gallery opening, Making it in Manhattan captures the reality of a special world. Music by Tom Waits, Don Braden, Ryuichi Sakamoto, George van Eps, Piero Umiliani with Chet Baker.