Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over the Barnes Collection" by John Anderson



Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over the Barnes Collection
by John Anderson
W.W. Norton & Company. 2003

Brief Review by Travis Simpkins

     Much has changed in the dozen years that have passed since "Art Held Hostage: The Battle Over the Barnes Collection" was first published in 2003… For one, the Barnes Foundation is no longer in it's original location, having moved from Merion to Philadelphia, PA in 2012.  However, despite further legal developments in the saga of the valuable Barnes Collection, John Anderson's wonderful book remains the definitive text on the subject. Founded in 1922 by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, a multimillionaire pharmaceutical king and art collector, the Barnes Foundation was billed as a private educational entity and displayed one of the greatest collections of Modern Art ever assembled. Totaling up to $20 Billion in today's dollars, the Barnes Collection consisted of 181 paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 69 by Paul C├ęzanne, 59 by Henri Matisse, 46 by Pablo Picasso, 21 by Chaim Soutine, 18 by Henri Rousseau, 16 by Amedeo Modigliani, 11 by Edgar Degas, 7 by Vincent van Gogh, and 6 by Georges Seurat amongst many other masterpieces. After Dr. Barnes' death in 1951, his will was read and the Foundation was surprisingly handed down to Lincoln University, a small and primarily African American college. Legal battles began almost immediately, with contestation on all sides over the years. Much attention in the book is given to Richard Glanton, an ambitious and politically-connected Philadelphia lawyer that seized control as President of the Barnes Foundation in the 1990's. Mr. Glanton's tenure had it's share of extreme highs and lows. He presided over the heralded and much-lauded world tour of the collection, then left the position  after a disastrous attempt to sue Foundation neighbors in a discrimination lawsuit filed under the Ku Klux Klan Act. With closed door deals and allegations of corruption, revenge and frivolous lawsuits, the toxic managerial atmosphere at the Barnes Foundation overshadowed the world-class Art collection it was meant to maintain. The book remains interesting through the majority of it's pages, with some lulls descending during the long passages regarding depositions in Glanton's many disputes and dealings with Niara Sudarkasa, former President of Lincoln University. Upon the book's conclusion, the legal battles were just beginning, with the Barnes Foundation in financial ruin… and an imminent move of venue several years down the line. Read this wonderful book, then watch the 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal, for added and updated insights.



Dr. Albert C. Barnes: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Joy of Life by Henri Matisse: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Matisse at The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Dr. Albert C. Barnes: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Richard Glanton: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Dr. Albert C. Barnes by Chirico: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Violette de Mazia: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Niara Sudarkasa: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Dr. Albert C. Barnes: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Cardplayers by Paul Cezanne: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Richard Glanton: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

The Barnes Foundation: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

Dr. Albert C. Barnes: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson

: Art Held Hostage. John Anderson