Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Robert Redford drops into the Barnes, and talks about art and 'the uproar'

The Sundance Kid, director of the new film "The Conspirator," chats about his recent visit to the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion and its controversial move onto Philadelphia's museum row.

Robert Redford drops into the Barnes, and talks about art and 'the uproar'

Robert Redford is on the phone.
Robert Redford is on the phone.

Robert Redford is on the phone, and wants to know what’s up with the Barnes.

“Hey, are they moving the Barnes out of that mansion?” he wonders. “Has that gone down smoothly, or has it been a rocky controversy?”

Redford, calling from his office in New York, is making himself available to talk about The Conspirator, his Lincoln assassination drama, starring Robin Wright and James McAvoy and opening Friday, April 15. (Read my interview with Redford on Sunday, April 17.) But the actor/filmmaker/environmentalist/mail order catalogue magnate had dropped into Philadelphia a few months back and taken a tour through the Barnes Foundation collection in Lower Merion. He’d also seen Don Argott’s The Art of the Steal, the documentary about the fate of the Barnes and "the uproar" over  efforts to relocate the storied trove to a new site on Philadelphia’s museum row.

So, he was curious how things were  shaking down.

“I’ve always been fascinated by that museum and the way the art has been hung there,” he says, referring to the late Albert C. Barnes’ unique approach of mixing Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterworks with African art, sculptural pieces and antique doorknobs and hinges. “It’s amazing to see that kind of work from a different perspective.”

Told that the new Barnes building is under construction on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but that there are still legal challenges going through the courts, Redford sounded, if not resigned, then realistic.

“Probably they can’t stop it, they won’t be able to stop it,” he says. “And then in years to come people will get used to it.”

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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