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Reviews

Review: Driven to Abstraction

September 20, 2019

Are you an art collector who’s on the lookout for an authentic Pollock, an expressive Monet or a fabulous Motherwell or are you a lover of fine artwork? Then you should check out the thought-provoking and interesting documentary from director Daria Price (Out on a Limb, Survival of the Fittest). You will be (re)introduced to one of the most intriguing, well-known and unbelievable cases of forgery fraud the art industry has ever known: The Ann Freedman case.

Was it greed or naivety?

It all started in 2011 when the highly regarded art gallery Knoedler announced that after being in the art business for 165 years, it would close its doors. Most people in the art world were very astonished when that news hit the papers apart from some who knew what was going on: Knoedler and its president Ann Freedman were sued for art forgery.  After literally trying to buy her way out of this, Freedman’s case got even more attention but not in the most positive way. Art dealers and advisors but also journalists and buyers start keeping an extremely close eye on Knoedler and Freedman.

When there are no shipping papers, no contracts with the buyers or no exhibition records of the paintings, then you know something is off. But how much did Ann Freedman know? Was she aware that the painting she sold for a multi-dollar budget were fake or was she victim of a con artist just like the buyers themselves? Did she handle out of greed or out of naivety?

The destruction of Knoedler in every way possible

In this documentary we get to know what happened (and what not happened) from the people who followed this case from incredibly close by. Whether it’s Michael Shnayerson (Contributing editor for Vanity Fair), Patricia Cohen (reporter of The New York Times), different artists or even Freedman’s attorney Luke Nikas, you’ll get a 360-degree angle of what went on between the uprising of the prestigious new art gallery to its destruction. It doesn’t matter whether you knew about this story beforehand or not, you will certainly gain new, unique and fascinating insides from those first-hand sources.

Because of the worldwide attention this case got, a lot of different and divergent opinions were formed. Which events took place and which were fake just for the sake of attention? Director Price wanted to represent all those different points of view in as many ways as possible and decided to use multiple coverage images. Most of them are interviews with important and respected people so it can feel a little bit repetitive. However, because they all have some exciting and entertaining things to say, Driven to Abstraction is able to keep your attention all the way. Price also used official documents, historic pictures, and newspapers to make sure that there’s a lot of diversity in her latest work. If you into a crime/documentary feature then you will love Driven to Abstraction as this is exactly how it should be.

Did she or did she not know? Get the answer at the Raindance Film Festival

Did the painter who forged the paintings know what was going on? Was Ann Freedman in on the $80 million forgery scandal that shook the art world? What happened to the people who became the victims of Knoedler. Driven to Abstraction will allow you to form your answers to all of these questions. Pretty sure you will be discussing this documentary with your friends and colleagues next time you go for a pint. First, you should stop at the Raindance Film Festival where this fascinating and well-made documentary will be screened on the Saturday 21st of September and Monday the 23rd of September.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

(This review was written for the Raindance Film Festival)

Driven To Abstraction (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Five Great Films About Filmmaking

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