When the words crime and fine art are used in the same sentence, it often has to do with high profile thievery, as in the recent arrest of a 58 year-old man who allegedly stole two paintings, one by Vincent Van Gogh and another by Franz Hals, from museums in the Netherlands last year. The paintings, by the way, are still missing.
When they’re used in the context of forgeries, the news is rarely the stuff of major headlines, perhaps because the revelation may affect the marketability of major works in a highly volatile economic climate. Or, it may simply be a horrible embarrassment.
That appears to be the case about a slow-moving scandal that was tipped off when one of the oldest and most prestigious art galleries in New York City suddenly closed in 2011. How that scandal evolved is the subject of a fascinating 2020 documentary impishly titled “Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art,” by Barry Avrich, now available for screening on Netflix.
The film chronicles a case involving New York City’s Knoedler Gallery, which was founded in 1846. Its history weathered the ups and downs of the city’s economy, while supplying works by Old Masters to “robber barons of the Gilded Age,” according to ARTnews (April 25, 2016). But by the late 20th century, as tastes began to favor contemporary art, the gallery suffered. Then, in 1971, oil magnate Armand Hammer bought the business for $2.5 million and shifted its focus to more modern offerings, largely by installing as director, the legendary Lawrence Rubin. Soon the gallery’s profile was enhanced by a stable featuring artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Frank Stella and Sean Scully, ARTnews reported.
Ann Freedman, who plays a major role in the story, started out as a receptionist for another gallery that was hired by Rubin. She was so well suited to the position she ended up as director in 1994. By coincidence, that was also the year a woman from Long Island named Glafira Rosales first met her at the gallery. What Freedman didn’t know is that even though Rosales seemed legit, she was actually part of a highly sophisticated international art forgery ring that included a Chinese immigrant named Pei-Shen Qian, who was intensely schooled in the art of replicating works by some of the world’s greatest contemporary painters.
Avrich’s film sorts through the complexities of the connections between dealers, galleries, artists, biographers, forensics technicians and scholars responsible for establishing provenance to tell a story that is both shocking, strange and simply amazing that so much money can change hands based upon an emotional reaction to works by people with lots of money to spend. Of course, there is their laudable investment in supporting major artists and their work, but the film lays out what sort of sharks are out there willing to take advantage of it.
As in every good detective story, it’s the people who found out about the scandal and broke the news in the media that stand out. Avrich includes interviews with art journalists at the New York Times and Vanity Fair, without whose reporting this story might have wound up kicked under the table.
If you love fine art and the art of a good mystery, “Made You Look” is a fascinating exercise in watching the dominoes fall in a marketplace where it, unfortunately, was inevitable.
“Made You Look” is not rated.
This film is now streaming on the Netflix subscription streaming service.
Also showing at the Storyteller Cinema 7
This film directed by Dominic Cooke is a period drama follows a Cold War spy and his Russian source as they try to avert the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch. Rated PG-13 for violence, partial nudity, brief strong language, and smoking throughout.
This film directed by and starring Robin Wright is about a bereaved woman who seeks a new life, off the grid in the wilds of Wyoming. Co-stars Demián Bichir and Kim Dickens. Rated PG-13 for thematic content, brief strong language and partial nudity.
This science fiction film from director Neil Burger follows a group of astronauts on a decades-long journey to colonize a distant planet, carrying with them human embryos who will be birthed and raised to be the next generation crew. When the new crew reach their teen years, a discovery is made that may alter the mission forever. Stars Colin Ferrell, Tye Sheridan, and Lily-Rose Depp. Rated PG-13 for violence, some strong sexuality, bloody images, a sexual assault and brief strong language.
The Girl Who Believes in Miracles
Directed by Richard Correll, this is a faith-based picture about a young girl named Sara (Austyn Johnson) who believes in the power of prayer. When it results in healing and help for the unfortunate in her town, the world takes notice. Will the crush of notoriety take a toll on Sara? Co-stars Mira Sorvino, Kevin Sorbo and Peter Coyote. Rated PG for thematic content, a brief fight and brief smoking.
Directed by Adam Wingard, this is the long-awaited showdown between the two titanic kaiju in the modern MonsterVerse series of CGI-laden epics. Be prepared for a destructive throwdown with the fate of humanity at the center. Stars Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Alexander Scarsgård. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of creature violence/destruction and brief language.
Directed by Evan Spiliotopolis, this film starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Cricket Brown and William Sadler focuses on a hearing-impaired girl who is visited by the Virgin Mary and can suddenly hear, speak and heal the sick. As people flock to witness her miracles, terrifying events unfold prompting the question: Are they the work of the Virgin Mary or something evil? Rated PG-13 for violent content, terror and some strong language.
This film, directed by Ilya Naishuller and starring Bob Odenkirk and Connie Nielsen in an action thriller with comedic overtones. Rated PG-13 for violence, some bloody images and brieg strong language.
Directed by Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada and two co-directors, this Disney animated film, featuring the voice talents of Kelly Marie Tra, Awkwafina, and Gemma Chan, is set in the re-imagined Earth world known as Kumandra where a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon. Rated PG for some violence, action and thematic elements.
These films are now showing at the Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañon Road in Taos. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com. This film is also streaming through major online venues.
Now streaming at the TCA’s Big Screen @ Home film series
Ticket $12, three separate programs available now through April 24.
TCA Big Screen @ Home series
These are short films nominated for the 2021 Academy Awards.
The first program is titled Live Action Shorts is rated R.
The films include: “The Present” by Farah Nabulsi (Palestine, 25 min.), “Feeling Through” by Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski (USA, 19 min.), “Two Distant Strangers” by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe (USA, 25 min.), and “White Eye” by Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman (Israel, 21 min.).
The second program is titled Documentary Shorts and is rated R.
The films include: “A Love Song for Latasha” by Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan (USA, 18 min.), “Do Not Split” by Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook (USA/Norway, 36 min.),
“Hunger Ward” by Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheuerman (USA, 40 min., “Colette” by Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard (France/Germany/USA, 24 min.), and “A Concerto Is a Conversation” by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (USA, 13 min.).
The third program is titled Animated Shorts and is rated PG-13.
The films include: “Burrow” by Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capbarat (USA, 6 min.), “Genius Loci” by Adrien Mérigeau and Amaury Ovise (France, 16 min.), “Opera” by Erick Oh (USA, 9 min.), “If Anything Happens I Love You” by Will McCormack and Michael Govier (USA, 12 min.), and “Yes-People” by Gísli Darri Halldórsson and Arnar Gunnarsson (Iceland, 8 min.).
Plus a selection of additional animated shorts. “Kapaemahu” (USA, 8 min.) and “The Snail and the Whale” (UK/Germany, 26 min.).
Ticket $10, available now through May 7.
TCA Big Screen @ Home series
Writer-director Sophie Deraspe’s incisive liberal adaptation of the Greek tragedy by Sophocles is the daring story of one young woman’s commitment to her family, even if it means sacrificing herself. Newcomer Nahéma Ricci gives a stunning, luminous performance as Antigone, an Algerian-born teenager living in Montreal with her immigrant family. Her world is shaken when her oldest brother is wrongfully gunned down by police during the arrest of her other brother who, if convicted, faces deportation. She invents a fearless, dangerous plan to free him, but can it succeed?
Come back on Sunday (April 11) at 4 p.m. for a free TCA Film Fans online Zoom discussion.
Madama Butterfly: The Met: Live in HD
Ticket $15, available now through April 13.
TCA Big Screen @ Home series
This is a livestream show with multiple start times. Just like a live show, you can only watch it on the date and time it takes place.
Puccini’s opera tells the heart-wrenching story of a young Japanese geisha who clings to the belief that her new husband, a visiting American naval officer, will stay faithful and return to her. In this live transmission from 2016, soprano Kristine Opolais stars as Cio-Cio-San, with tenor Roberto Alagna as Lt. Pinkerton, in Anthony Minghella’s beautiful, atmospheric production. Karel Mark Chichon conducts.
How to watch TCA Big Screen @ Home films
Visit tcataos.org/film/ to find selections available. Click on the movie link and follow instructions for ticket payment and other features such as filmmaker interviews and free online discussions presented by the TCA Film Fans. Watch on your computer or other media device. The Taos Center for the Arts retains 50 percent of the ticket price.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Taos Community Auditorium is closed for the time being in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Until it reopens we will focus on movies through the TCA’s Big Screen @ Home series. The Storyteller Cinema 7 has reopened and is now showing a full schedule of films 7 days a week. Limit is 25 percent of capacity for each theater and masks will be required when not eating or drinking.