New Documentary Explores Theft of de Kooning Work by Arizona Couple – ARTnews.com

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Remind yourself of an art thief in your head. Perhaps you think of someone working on a mission or trying to get rich. For example, a fraudster with a criminal syndicate or a predator who plans to sell a stolen piece. Black market. But what if the thieves want art for themselves?This is a question to animate Thief collectorAn interesting and mysterious documentary by Allison Otto, premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival last weekend. This movie suggests that there are art thieves out there, not just for money. When those people steal art, they do so from love, on the contrary-anyway, some sort.

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Focus Thief collector Is one of the stranger robbers in art history. In 1985, Willem de Kooning’s painting was stolen from the University of Arizona’s Tucson Museum. On a sleepy day after Thanksgiving that year, men and women cut out the de Kooning from the frame. , I rolled up the canvas and hurried out of the museum. The paintings at that time were worth $ 400,000. Currently worth about $ 160 million. No one chased the thief when he left the museum with the painting in his hand or when he ran away with it in the red Toyota Supra. Two years later, without a solid lead, the FBI put it on the list of stolen artworks it wanted most.

The astonishing end of the incident arrived in 2017, when a Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiquities worker arrived to evaluate her property at the recently deceased Rita Adler’s remote Arizona home. There was none other than de Kooning in the bedroom behind the front door. Woman-Ocher (1955). There were even screws near the floor to prevent the door from hitting the picture when it opened. “Honestly, this was one of the ugliest paintings I’ve ever seen,” says Rick Johnson of Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiquities in Otto’s film.

The art history position of painting is not the focus of this documentary, but experts disagree. This painting is from de Kooning’s famous “Women” series, an abstract expressionist image of a woman’s nude, with her breasts and body bulging and blending into a series of brushstrokes. (Some feminist critics point to these paintings as an example of the misunderstandings of male Abstract Expressionists for the violent portrayals of women.) Similar and more important. However, the works in the series are held by the Museum of Modern Art, Art, Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum. The painting of “Women” is a glorious example of post-war abstraction, and is probably even the most famous work De Kooning has ever produced.

So it’s painful for viewers to find out in Otto’s documentary that Adler and her husband, Jerry, who died in 2012, were damaged when they rolled the picture and stapled it to a new frame. Adlers seems to have fixed some of the more suffering areas with her own paint. Someone even put a layer of varnish on it. The repairer is not currently using it as it can damage the paint beneath it. “It feels like a faint echo of what would have been done in a professional job,” said Laura Rivers, guardian of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Woman-Ocher Discovered in 2017.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Mark Stevens, who wrote a definitive de Kooning biography in 2004 with Annalyn Swan, goes into more detail about it. So what if you aren’t trained? My god will do such a thing. “

Otto’s documentary goes head-to-head with Rivers’ questions and asks what Adler has, which is routinely described by friends as “nice” people in the film. For those who knew them, Adler wasn’t exactly the thrill-seeker. They traveled around the world and came back with a variety of jewelry to prove it. They regularly accepted people at home and lived a middle class life. However, Kooning’s robbers leave the possibility that they were not the person who presented themselves.

In Otto’s reading, the Adlers’ de Kooning robbery was a fantastic form of fulfillment.As if to emphasize it, she casts a deliberately shrunk reenactment of the robber in footage from a 1999 remake. Thomas Crown Affair, Pierce Brosnan plays a millionaire stealing Monet from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The film is fictitious, as is the reproduction of Otto, and is camping in a way that emphasizes their craftsmanship. Special attention has been paid to Jerry’s mustache, saying she was a fake at the time of the robbery. To Otto’s hands, it looks positively plastic. You wonder how his obvious disguise did not let him go.

From time to time, Otto falls too hard on the megalomaniacs advocated by Adler, especially Jerry. Cup and lip.. The prose was Hokum, but the details were there. He made the de Kooning robbery fictitious as a jewel theft. On a regular basis, Otto is how many of his stories, including Rita having sex with a Latin gardener, Jerry killing him and throwing him into a home hygiene system that wasn’t emptied at Adler’s request. It features the reproduction of that.The nasty racial politics of this act and its possible fictitiousness have not been investigated, but Otto spends a lot of time wondering if the murder has occurred from other aspects. Cup and lip Proved to be true. She brought a hygiene company for her investigation, but she appears without solid evidence.

This will return you to the de Kooning robbery. Apart from the theft, Adler did not seem to be a criminal. So what did he have to steal millions of worthwhile paintings and keep them? The clues may come thanks to his nephew’s guess, which explains Adler’s ideas as follows: “If I can’t be famous, at least I could be infamous.”

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