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Whistler: For Art's Sake

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Caustic wit, man about town, James McNeill Whistler was the original art star.  But beneath the high gloss and mannered style was an artist whose pioneering approach would revolutionize the art world in his time – and beyond.


A painter who from childhood had decided to go his own way, this pioneering genius’s struggle to find his own voice resulted in a breakaway style that moved painting towards abstraction.  But there was more – a keen understanding of the need for the artist to create his own brand. Famous for his patent leather shoes, monocle and uptown swagger, Whistler’s theatrics attracted the curiosity of buyers and the attention of the critics.  When one of those critics accused him of flinging “a pot of paint” in the face of the public with his nearly abstract paintings, Whistler sued for libel, and changed the course of art history.


Famed for the groundbreaking portrait of his mother, compared to Velazquez and Rembrandt and placed in the first rank of modern painters, Whistler, by the time of his death had become one of the most recognized artists in all of Europe.  Dramatic re-creation, art, graphics, and interviews combine to profile this fascinating character , Whistler – For Art’s Sake is narrated by Anjelica Huston.  The words of James McNeill Whistler are read by Kevin Kline.

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