Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Legitimate Rape of Europa

by Drew Martin
I recently watched The Art of the Steal, which chronicles the forced moved of the $25+ billion art collection of Dr. Albert C. Barnes to Philadelphia, "over his dead body." The collection was central to Barnes' private educational mission, which operated out of his estate in the suburbs of Philadelphia, a city that he made every attempt to keep his works out of for eternity. Barnes loathed the museum network of America's big cities and insisted that this collection never be sold, loaned or moved. This documentary explains how the Barnes Foundation was raided like a corporate takeover and how, in the end, did not honor his will. Several people in the film close to the vision of Barnes called the move, the worst crime in the art world since World War II.  To see a documentary that explores this reference, watch The Rape of Europa. I saw it earlier today and learned a lot about the absurd art motives behind the Nazis and the destruction of national treasures by all sides. It might seem insensitive to fret over artwork when tens of millions of lives were lost but it was a war in which a painting could be traded for a human life. The industrialized looting was planned before each city was invaded by senior German officers who were required to be keen on great works of art and eager to contribute to what Hitler had envisioned as the greatest art museum in the world (a tribute to his rule). Even shortly before taking his life, he expressed hope that his museum would be built. Art, after all, was central to Hitler's psyche. His rejection as an artist fueled him to rid Europe of what he considered decadent art and rob his European neighbors of their souls.