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Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection Hardcover – May, 2003
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Art Held Hostage reveals the messy inside story about the most infamous world-class art museum that youve probably never heard of. The saga begins with the life and times of Albert C. Barnes, a Philadelphia business magnet who, after making his fortune during the Depression, becomes one of Americas most important collectors of impressionist and post-impressionist art. The collection includes famed paintings by such luminaries as Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir. Barnes became well known for his harsh personality and instigated a problematic invitation-only policy to his museum, located in a Philadelphia suburb. Strangely, even after Barnes death the museum continued to become embroiled in financial, legal, and community disputes. The story gets uglier during the 1990s with a series of lawsuits for the foundations high-profile president, including a racial discrimination suit and eventually near-bankruptcy for the collection. Author John C. Anderson, a contributing editor of The American Lawyer magazine, spares no cynical detail in his investigation into this truly American tale of power, litigiousness, and boardroom antics. This is a book for those interested in the dark underbelly of the business side of the art world. -- J.P. Cohen
From Publishers Weekly
Dr. Albert Barnes pulled himself out of poverty at a young age, eventually becoming a pharmaceutical tycoon and snapping up art treasures during Depression fire sales. At the end of his combative life, Barnes, who changed his will to match his mercurial moods, left the collection not to his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, but to Lincoln University, a once-acclaimed African-American institution that had produced graduates such as Langston Hughes before seeing its reputation and enrollment decline. Located in the Main Line suburb of Philadelphia, the collection is currently worth more than $6 billion and contains masterworks by Picasso, Renoir and Matisse. A deputy editor of American Lawyer magazine, Anderson turns his keen eye to the struggle for power over the collection that has been waged since Barnes's death in 1951. At the center of the conflict is lawyer Richard Glanton, who as president of the Barnes during the 1990s launched a costly lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the township that houses the collection, put paintings from the collection on tour despite Barnes's "no tour" clause to his gift and pondered the once unthinkable tactic of selling paintings from the collection to raise additional funds. Glanton's one-time ally in behind-the-scenes power plays, Lincoln University president Niara Sudarkasa, found herself helming an institution unprepared for the responsibilities of the collection and was later embroiled in her own legal troubles stemming from spending practices at the university. Through detailed storytelling and insightful interviews with key players (shown in 16 pages of b&w photos), Anderson vividly depicts the downfall of now-enemies Glanton and Sudarkasa and the devastating financial impact of their power struggles on the foundation itself. Anyone interested in the intersection of art, race and power politics will find this tale engrossing-and depressing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was fortunate to get to see the Barnes Collection when it came to Fort Worth years ago and to read of the real history of the collection was like completing the full circle of knowledge.
I have read another book of some art collections but this one really stands above others, being specifically of a collection I really enjoy.
The background maneuvering to build the collection was interesting and obtaining the various pieces of art makes for an intriguing read
Still, an easy and enjoyable read.