I wonder how many of us have had the chance to see the Barnes Collection in Merion, PA. Barbara and I had that moving experience together several years ago. I had seen the collection many years prior to that and always told friends who hadn't been there, it was an experience they wouldn't forget. In 2012 no one will ever have this experience again.
I have just viewed an independent film called the ART OF THE STEAL which painfully reviews the circumstances causing the collection to be moved from it's wonderful building and grounds to a downtown Philadelphia tourist location.
I've known about the contentious issues surrounding the collection for several yeas but to have it all reviewed in this film was an additional revelation about how the criminal mind works in the guise of ambitious foundations, lawyers, politicians (including the Governor of Pennsylvania). When I first learned that these "honorable" people had succeeded in dismanteling Dr. Barnes' carefully written foundation indenture that was to protect the collection from moneyed interests having nothing to do with the love of great art, I was heartbroken.
And now, in reviewing the process of this thievery in this film, I was again reminded of the power of greed and artless mentality so willing to destroy something magnificent.
The Pew Cheritable Trust now "owns" the Barnes colletion valued at 25 to 30 billion dollars. Barnes was aware that his colleciton could become so valuable that vultures would seek to steal it. And of course, he was completely correct.
Matisse said, "The Barnes Foundation is the only sane place in America to see art" If you didn't see the collection where and how Dr. Barnes wanted it to be seen, you can't know what Matisse meant. I'd like to think that you still could if you hurry but I don't know if it remains open in Marion before it goes to the city that contributed to the thievery. .
Actually, I shouldn't recommend THE ART OF THE STEAL to anyone since it's a heartbreaker.. If you like happy endings, skip it.
In the 1960s there was a film called NEVER ON SUNDAYS. In it, a Greek prostitute attended classic Greek plays performed in an outdoor amphitheater. When the tragedies would end..... tragically, she would simply add her own ending which was; "And then they all went to the seashore". Well, I don't know what fantasy to invent to ease my pain and anger at those who place money and power before art. Always a tragedy.