Appellate Judge James A. Stewart shot all the paintings on his wall himself.
"A playful series of eight films that are both analytical adventures and adventurous analyses."
Matthew Barney's ten DVD copies of the Cremaster Cycle are each worth about a million or so. I don't think DVD Verdict will ever get a screener copy, but we do get to screen Art Safari, an eight-part look at Barney and other contemporary artists which originally aired on the BBC and other European networks.
The two discs each contain four episodes, roughly 28 minutes each:
• "Gregor Schneider: House of Horrors"
• "Matthew Barney: Church of Cremaster"
• "Relational Art: Is It an Ism?"
• "Santiago Sierra: Art Versus Globalization"
• "Sophie Calle: Conceptual Heart"
• "Takashi Murakami: Toying with Art"
Art Safari is aimed at a viewer who's interested in contemporary art, but isn't necessarily a scholar. "Art geek" Ben Lewis isn't cracking jokes, but his style—a mix of deadly seriousness and antics, such as his imitation of artist Cattelan to get a meeting with the recluse—can be amusing and feels like he's game for it. Even as you're laughing, you will learn something about an artist's ideas or how the art world works. He's good at putting the artists' work in context, offering clips and explanation of earlier artists or the times they're commenting on. The "Relational Art" episode, which examines a new trend and shows how art critics and experts think, is entirely devoted to a primer on artistic movements.
I wouldn't recommend powerwatching Art Safari. Each half-hour episode puts a lot of information before you, and watching several episodes back to back might feel overwhelming.
It looks and sounds good for a production that goes on location a lot. A booklet with comments by Lewis adds more background about the artists featured on the DVD.
Art Safari provides a quick survey of contemporary art that should satisfy anyone looking for one. Lewis' oddball humor is easy to take and occasionally illuminating.
Not guilty. Plus, at less than a million, it's a bargain.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Icarus Films
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