"The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within that prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness." Andre Malraux


25 February, 2011

Under the Ivy

This was the "B" side of Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill, one of my all-time favorite songs. Amazing to stumble across an unheard song after a quarter century of fan-dom....

01 February, 2011

The Art of the Steal

I rented this documentary, The Art of the Steal, last week, & I highly, highly recommend it. It's a passionate, deeply one-sided account (just look at that title) of the collection of the late Albert Barnes & the successful campaign by Philadelphia's government officials & monied interests to get their paws on it. I won't delve into the whole matter here -- it could take volumes -- but in a nutshell, Albert Barnes made it 100% crystal clear in his will that he wanted limited access to his collection, primarily by students at The Barnes Foundation's educational facilities in Lower Merion Township; however, his collection became worth too much money for his wishes to be honored. Yes, the argument can be made that he couldn't have foreseen how priceless his collection would eventually become & that he left its stewardship in too loosely organized a set of hands, but the argument cannot be made that he left his wishes unclear or that they haven't been expressly ignored. If the collection had been allowed to simply exist on its intended scale & for its intended purpose, its care could have been funded indefinitely. (And is it the worst thing in the world if the occasional old painting passes on because it exists in the real world? There's way too much emphasis on archiving in the current system, if you ask me, but that's a separate issue entirely.)

The story brings up so many deeply troubling issues from our avaricious age. Those who love art for art's sake vs. those who appreciate it as a commodity, the individual vs. the state, democracy vs. corporatocracy, local interests vs. globalization, craftsmanship vs. commercialization...there's even a healthy dose of commentary on race relations, due to the fact that Barnes left his foundation in the long-term care of Lincoln University, a small & traditionally African-American college. I've seen a lot of online commentary on this movie that has been amazingly defensive, even from people with clearly no stake in the issue. The points of view of people like Barnes, who cantankerously wanted nothing to do with "the establishment," are being silenced everywhere you look these days. I think the filmmakers, by giving him a voice at all, have stirred up a hornet's nest. God bless them.

You can watch this on instant view via Netflix, I'll note, but here's the trailer in the meantime....