Was the $25 billion art collection of Albert C. Barnes “stolen” decades after his death, as some say, or was it simply “moved in the public interest”?
Art and legal pundits and interested others can judge for themselves during a lively examination of the facts during the annual Jordan H. and Joan R. Leibman Forum on the Legal and Business Environment of Art on Friday, Nov. 1, at the IU McKinney School of Law.
This year’s forum, “Donor Intent vs. Public Interest,” examines the issues raised in the film “The Art of the Steal,” a documentary about the disposition of the Barnes collection. The program includes a screening of the film, followed by a panel discussion featuring legal, art and philanthropic experts.
“Donor Intent vs. Public Interest” takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. in Inlow Hall, 530 W. New York St. The film screening takes place at 4 p.m., followed by the panel discussion at 6 p.m., both in Wynne Courtroom. A reception will follow the discussion at 7:15 p.m. in the Atrium.
At his death in 1951, Barnes had amassed a matchless collection of modern and post-impressionist art. He also left a will with strict instructions for the collection to remain forever at an original location in a Philadelphia suburb. After a battle that included a lawsuit by one faction of Philadelphia residents and a countersuit by another, the collection was relocated to downtown Philadelphia in 2012.
The public debate over moving the collection was one of the most “significant, heated and widespread debates about art, culture and place in Philadelphia” around the turn of the 21st century, said Laura Holzman, a forum panelist.
Holzman, assistant professor of art history and museum studies at the Herron School of Art and Design and the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, is working on a book project about civil discourse and visual culture that includes a study of the discourse about moving the Barnes collection.
“The use of extreme language (like describing the relocated collection as ‘stolen’) is significant because it demonstrates the fervor behind people’s beliefs about what was best for the collection and its publics,” Holzman said. “It also suggests that debates about the ethics of relocation were steeped in concerns about cultural capital, or who has ownership of the art.”
Other forum speakers are:
- Kenan Farrell, attorney and adjunct professor teaching art and museum law at IU McKinney School of Law.
- Kathryn Haigh, deputy director for collections and exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
- Robert A. Katz, professor of law at IU McKinney School of Law and professor of philanthropic studies at IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
An additional free screening of “The Art of the Steal” will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Room 375, Inlow Hall. Online registration is suggested.
The Jordan H. and Joan R. Leibman Forum was established at IUPUI in 2004 to examine issues on the legal and business environment of the arts. It is co-sponsored by the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, the IU Herron School of Art and Design and the IU Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.
The forum is free of change, but registration is required online. Indiana continuing legal education credit of 1.4 hour is available free of charge.
For questions, contact Beth Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.