Watching Olympia Stone's affectionate and intelligent bio-docu about her father -- New York-based art dealer and collector Allan Stone -- is a pleasant experience, one roughly akin to viewing a casual acquaintance's unexpectedly witty homemovies.
Watching Olympia Stone’s affectionate and intelligent bio-docu about her father — New York-based art dealer and collector Allan Stone — is a pleasant experience, one roughly akin to viewing a casual acquaintance’s unexpectedly witty homemovies. Provided, of course, said acquaintance is the child of a charismatic eccentric who was a friend and champion of such artists as Willem de Kooning and John Chamberlain. Just the right length at a smidge over one hour, “The Collector” will play best on homevid, and may sell exceptionally well in museum gift shops.From the early 1950s, the elder Stone used his Manhattan gallery to showcase a roster of favorite artists (ranging from abstract expressionist Franz Kline to photorealist Richard Estes) while filling his sprawling Westchester home with an eclectic multitude of paintings, sculptures, kitschy knick-knacks and tribal totems. (His second wife, Clare, and their daughters, including Olympia, recall having to constantly forge new paths through the ever-expanding clutter.) A self-described “obsessive” when it came to acquiring art in massive quantities, Allan Stone took as much pleasure in discovering and promoting artists whose works had been repeatedly rejected before they appeared at his gallery. Only half-jokingly, he claims an infallible instinct for knowing instinctively which artworks “cut the mustard.” One of the pic’s most amusing and illuminating sequences details how, at a time when Wayne Thiebaud couldn’t generate interest elsewhere, the artist found a receptive audience for his deceptively simple paintings of cakes and pies at the Stone gallery. As Olympia Stone fashions an intimate portrait from archival material and talking-heads interviews — including several conversations with her gregarious dad, who died last December shortly after the pic wrapped — “The Collector” sustains a tone of bemused admiration neatly complemented by Jason Graves’ jaunty, jazz-flavored score. “The art experience for me is a narcotic,” Allan tells Olympia at one point. “The Collector” suggests that he never tired of seeking new highs.