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Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes…

Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection

by John Anderson

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Regarding Art Held Hostage, author John Anderson does state that this book is "neither biography nor a work of art history. It is journalism" (p. xi). He also states that this book is "in many ways a legal tale".

So what does this book cover? It introduces the reader to the personality that was Albert C. Barnes, a wealthy art collector; it also cover the long and complicated legal woes that involved the Barnes Foundation which all began after his death.

I had the opportunity to view the artwork from his collection when it was on tour in the early 1990s; the tour itself was also controversial. Now that we are soon returning to Pennsylvania, I look forward to visiting it in its also-controversial relocated new home.

I would have liked to read more about the collection itself and how Barnes chose and acquired the pieces, but that is not the intended scope of this book. I'll look for other related works on the Barnes Collection.

Overall, an interesting book even though some of the legal proceedings dragged on a bit (as I'm sure it did in real life). ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Aug 19, 2014 |
Not about the art but about the legal problems of the private foundation and the fascianting, strong personalities involved. ( )
  AnneliM | Apr 29, 2010 |
finished 8/07; interesting, a little too focused on legal issues not enough about what was going on day to day
  bridgetbaratta | Aug 29, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393048896, Hardcover)

Art Held Hostage reveals the messy inside story about the most infamous world-class art museum that you’ve 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 America’s 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 foundation’s 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:42 -0400)

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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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