The Desert Of Forbidden Art (2011)

The Desert Of Forbidden Art



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

THE DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART is the incredible true story of how one man, Igor Savitsky, saved a treasure trove of art worth millions of dollars, "hiding" it in a museum in the desert in Uzbekistan. A tireless collector of paintings that the Soviet government wanted destroyed, Savitsky traveled thousands of miles - scheming, plotting, pleading - doing whatever it took to get his hands on the art he so passionately wanted to preserve. As a result of his efforts, The Karakalpakstan State Museum of … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By: ,
Written By: Amanda Pope, Tchavdar Georgiev
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 21, 2011
Olive Films - Official Site


as Igor Savitsky

as Artists' Voices

as Artists' Voices

as Artists' Voices

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Critic Reviews for The Desert Of Forbidden Art

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (6)

Viewers of this remarkable documentary will be astonished at not only what this art looks like and why it's forbidden, but also where it is and how it got there.

Full Review… | March 17, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[A] Gorgeous documentary.

Full Review… | March 11, 2011
New York Times
Top Critic

[An] nformative but standard documentary...

Full Review… | March 11, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

It's a must-see for anyone interested in art.

Full Review… | March 8, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

One anecdote about Savitsky flouting an official demand to remove an offending painting ends with this deftly scoffing voice-over from his stand-in, Ben Kingsley: "Anti-Soviet? Of course. Degenerate? No way."

Full Review… | September 30, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Needless to say, the film is packed with art, as well as interviews with art critics, journalists and the descendents of some of the artists.

Full Review… | September 23, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Desert Of Forbidden Art


"The Desert of Forbidden Art" is an informative documentary about a fascinating subject, the Nukus Museum in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic of Uzbekistan. When this area was part of the Soviet Union, the Stalinist idea was to repress the local culture as much as possible in favor of conformity.(On the plus side, women's liberation was introduced.) In response, Igor Savitsky began collecting as much local folk art as he could to put it in a museum, so it could be viewed and preserved. If that was not daring enough, then he also went on to do something similar for censored avant garde art which clashed with the official propaganda artwork of the social realist style that ironically had nothing to do with reality.

While getting bonus points for using a clip from the excellent movie "The White Sun of the Desert," "The Desert of Forbidden Art" mainly relies on the testimony of survivors and children of artists to tell its story. While it allows for an emotional recounting of events, it sadly does not allow for a coherent timeline. And yes we know all about the gulags by now. As for the present day, the documentary summarily skips over reported Uzbek human rights abuses(hat tip: Dirty Diplomacy by Craig Murray) in favor of what it feels is the greater peril of "radical Islam."

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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