SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Anyone who lives and breathes the fine art world knows who Agnes Gund is. Now, thanks to the documentary Aggie, everyone has the chance to know her and her unique understanding of how creativity and expression are the essence of life-long learning and can create change. Her daughter, Catherine Gund, guides the audience through the life of this incredible woman as both writer and director of Aggie. It eventually focuses on Aggie’s impeccable taste and credibility, which led to social change at the highest level.
Catherine Gund is an accomplished and award-winning filmmaker with an array of work focusing on strategic and sustainable social transformation, arts, culture, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health. Her portrait of her mother, whose love for artists and art collecting is not only a feast for the eyes but is also a compelling story on how change is possible. In this well-constructed and produced documentary, Catherine conveys not only Aggie’s passion for art but her love for her mother. Aggie includes a spectrum of interviews with artists, both established and emerging, Aggie’s friends, curatorial peers, including President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker, and her grandchildren.
“When Agnes Gund sold her Roy Lichtenstein Masterpiece for $165 million to start Art for Justice, she created a social initiative that had never existed before.”
When Agnes Gund sold her Roy Lichtenstein Masterpiece for $165 million to start Art for Justice, she created a social initiative that had never existed before. This initiative allows formerly incarcerated leaders, artists, activists, lawyers, advocates, and writers to fight for criminal justice reform, as well as create works of art. However, for Aggie, this was not unusual as she had been creating social change since she became an art collector. More than 40 years ago, she started Studio in a School to make sure New York City Public Schools had arts as part of their curriculum. As president of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1990s, her acquisitions were groundbreaking, including works such as John Waters’ Pink Flamingos, who in the film compliments Aggie on her vision as he jokes about his own. Yet, her gifts of many pieces of contemporary art to MOMA from her personal collection are even more astonishing.
Aggie’s friendships with Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Louise Bourgeois, to name a few, added to her life-long support of fine art. Eventually, she honed in on collecting up and coming ethnic artists cementing her core beliefs that art can make a difference and be a vehicle for social change. As a highly regarded philanthropist hailing from a wealthy upbringing, Aggie’s contributions and distinguished art collection, have influenced many other fine art collectors and peers of her generation. At 81, Aggie continues her work and education to leave an untouchable legacy of dignity and class. Aggie is a film every art center in the country should show to its supporters and community as its positive message is inspiring, aspiring, and beautiful. Aggie is a film about someone with imagination, and art requires imagination.
Aggie screened at the Sundance 2020 Film Festival.