Arts Review, Movies

Art Bastard

Art Bastard featured image

Art Bastard
Victor Kanefsky, director and writer of this documentary feature

Starring: Robert Cenedella

The documentary story: Cenedella is a feisty unconventional painter who was kicked out of high school in the ‘50s for refusing to sign a pro-American Loyalty Oath and whose nominal father was a blacklisted writer. Robert Cenedella is a true bastard: his biological father was a family friend, the poet and professor Russell Speirs. Opposed to abstract expression painting and pop art, Cenedella ended up outside of the galleries and museums—a genuine maverick.

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Director Kanefsky “ follows Cenedella from his days selling cheeky “I Like Ludwig” buttons to pay his art school tuition to his apprenticeship with the exiled German satirical painter George Grosz, who inspired his merging of refined technique with blistering social critique; from his provocative 1965 “Yes Art” exhibit which became the most popular – and debated – show of the year, lambasting the crass commercialism of the blossoming Pop Art movement, to his sudden, 12-year break from painting and his fruitful return as a teacher, mentor and unbowed iconoclast of American painting.”—from the film’s website

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The reviews: 

*New York Times CRITIC’s PICK! “Robust documentary portrait of lifelong rebel and art-world gadfly.”-Stephen Holden, THE NYTIMES

–Meet The NYC artist who crucified Santa Claus -by Barbara Hoffman, NEW YORK POST

–“An intimate portrait of the iconoclastic artist Robert Cenedella… Socially conscious and often mordantly humorous, the paintings are wonderfully exhibited in this film which benefits from being seen on the big screen.”-Frank Scheck, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

My take: Conventionally made film marred by bombastic music but with a genuinely unique character at its core. Cenedella is a great doc subject and his painting—satirical, filled to the brim with people—is old fashioned but wonderful. A film to see and enjoy.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

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