Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., May 20
The Art of the Steal
- Rated NR | 1 hour, 41 minutes
Documentarist Don Argott relates the story, with the aid of a roundtable of talking heads, of what happened to the Barnes Foundation, specifically its collection of post-Impressionist and early modern art, after the death of the philanthropic Philadelphia pharmaceutical king, Albert C. Barnes. The paintings, expressly intended never to be sold, loaned, or moved, were simply worth too much — “billions and billions” — for everyone to obey the terms of the trust. It is at bottom a story of money, how money makes people lose their heads and their hearts, as well as a story of race, class, and politics, a complicated story clearly told, with an interesting cast of characters and a wide variety of villains (“I brought the Barnes,” one proclaims proudly, “out of the Dark Ages”), lacking only a Gary Cooper or a James Stewart to transform it into a Capra story. 2009.