Who determines what is fine art and what is not? Why does it matter who painted a particular piece? Are museums like zoos for inanimate objects? These questions and others have been asked or are inspired by recent documentaries about the art world, including Don Argott's The Art of the Steal, which opens this weekend in theaters and debuts today on IFC On Demand.

If you've ever been interested in art -- or, if you've at least been to an art museum before (who hasn't?) -- please do yourself a favor and check this new film out. Then come back here and contribute to the Doc Talk discussion. Other films I recommend seeing are My Kid Could Paint That and Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollack?, both of which have altered my perception of fine art and the art world from what I grew up with.

From birth I was raised on galleries, museums and art lessons. I come from a family of artistic individuals, both professional and non. And my schoolmates consistently labeled me "Class Artist." Yet the whole topic of art has always been tricky for me. I've consistently had conflicting views on art, hated theory and pretentious art world B.S., and I never felt the need to defend, critically, why my favorite painters are as disparate as Van Gogh, Miro, Parrish, my brother and Bierstadt.

I had as much interest in commercial illustration (including of course a love for movie poster design), the kind my father made a living at, as the works of the masters. Meanwhile, I always found the idea of standing in line for hours to see the Mona Lisa, just because it's the Mona Lisa, to be pretty lame. Nothing against the academic art world, really (I do cherish what art history education I've had), but I don't like how it dictates to the masses -- part of this being the fault of the masses, I know -- what is important and valuable art (and certainly the same can be said for cinema).
categories Columns, Cinematical