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The Desert Of Forbidden Art

The Desert Of Forbidden Art (2011)



Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 226

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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

Jun 21, 2011

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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (2)

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.

March 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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[A] Gorgeous documentary.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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[An] nformative but standard documentary...

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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It's a must-see for anyone interested in art.

March 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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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."

September 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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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.

September 23, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Then there are the paintings themselves, which are breathtaking in their brilliant colors, and their hybrid influences of the Russian avant-garde and Central Asian folk culture.

June 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

What does the collector's collecting aim to substitute? What does the collection attempt to replace in the collector?

March 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

The fascinating story of one of the greatest collections of avant-garde art in the world and a plea for help in preserving it.

March 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Monsters and Critics
Monsters and Critics

One of the paintings featured herein is currently my Windows desktop image.

March 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

The Desert of Forbidden Art tells the fascinating true story of a former aristocrat's efforts to save banned Soviet art in a remote desert area during the perilous Stalinist era.

March 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

A great art-history tale becomes a good but less-than-remarkable film.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

An unusual and fascinating documentary about the survival of avant-garde art in the Soviet Union thanks to the courage, imagination, and zeal of one collector.

March 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

a remarkable story of heroism and of defiance of tyranny.

March 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Mark Leeper's Reviews
Mark Leeper's Reviews

Outstanding documentary on the conflict between revolutionary artists and a state power determined to crush them in the name of "Communism". A great companion-piece to Chris Marker's "The Last Bolshevik".

March 9, 2011 Full Review Source:

Art collector Igor Savitsky saved 44,000 world class art works from obliteration by the repressive Soviet regime, and built a museum for them in Uzbekistan. If you love art, history, and heros, you will love The Desert of forbidden Art

March 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

A dramatic examination of the power of art against forces of repressive tyranny.

January 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

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."
June 29, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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