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The Globe and Mail

Art Bastard is without high drama but compelling and playful in tone

3.5 out of 4 stars

Art Bastard
Written by
Victor Kanefsky
Directed by
Victor Kanefsky
Robert Cenedella

After ridiculing the fear-mongering associated with the atom-bomb drills in American schools of the 1950s, a young and cheeky Robert Cenedella was asked to sign a loyalty oath. He didn't sign it then, and he never, ever did – conformity was not his bag, as we learn from a documentary that is without high drama, but playful in tone and compelling over all because of its iconoclastic, forthright and floppy hatted subject. A contemporary of Andy Warhol, Cenedella has made a career out of painting puckish depictions of New York life and is known for his distaste for the art world, which the 76-year-old sees as a crooked scene in which the mediocre decide the fate of genius. Cenedella's colourful, caricatural works are often allegorical, touching on his relationships with his biological father and the father who raised him. That being said, the film also serves as a love letter to a third father of sorts, the German artist and Cenedella's mentor George Grosz. The documentarian Victor Kanefsky paints a vivid picture of an entertaining rogue, one who finally gets his due with this film. Then again, Cenedella might refuse to accept the recognition. There's no bastard like a principled bastard.

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