"The Art Of The Steal" Premiere At MoMA

by Chiara Atik · February 11, 2010

On Tuesday Evening, art and film patrons including Albert Maylses, Bettina Prentice, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Anne Bass, Paula Zahn, Stella Schnabel, Damian Loeb, and...John McEnroe (?) attended the premiere of "The Art Of The Steal" at MoMA. The movie will play at IFC next Tuesday, and if you have even a passing interest in art, you need to see it.-

Go HERE for more photos by Shoko Takayasu and tag yourself and your friends!

People usually think of New York City as the epicenter of American art, but surprisingly the most valuable art collection, in both the monetary and artistic sense, is The Barnes Foundation, currently located about 4 miles outside of Philadelphia.

The collection belonged to Dr.Albert Barnes, who had unparallelled taste in art, and a huge sum of money to spend on it. When he died, Dr.Barnes took legal measures to ensure the collection would stay housed in its original setting in Lower Merion, PA, but, as is unfortunately often the case, after his death his will was  contested. Don Argott's documentary tells the captivating story of what happened to the world's most important collection of modern art.

The movie is fascinating on its own, but the experience of watching it on Tuesday was made more fascinating by the almost uncomfortable juxtaposition of the movie's theme with the premiere's setting: big museums like MoMA are definitely not portrayed in a nice light in the film, (MoMA, in fact, is mentioned by name several times), and neither are the rich board members and "patrons of the arts" who made up a large part of the audience. While the film may be released too late to save the Barnes Foundation, hopefully it might instill or re-invoke a sense of conscientiousness for those lucky enough to be arts patrons, board members, and involved with art-geared non profits throughout New York.

Following the film, an after party was held at chic art gallery Haunch of Venison, where moviegoers dined, talked to the (very gracious!) filmmakers, and purused the art on display, perhaps contemplating starting their own Barnes-ian collections.