Source: The New York Times
A title like “Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski” suggests a breadth and depth that’s difficult to live up to, which makes it all the more remarkable that this Netflix documentary by Irek Dobrowolski manages to deliver.
In addition to painting a comprehensive (and startlingly intimate) portrait of Polish artist Stanislav Szukalski, who died in 1987, the film wrestles with questions about whether and how art can be separated from the artist.
The bulk of “Struggle” is built upon a series of interviews with Szukalski, filmed in the 1980s by art collector Glenn Bray. Bray had come across a book of Szukalski’s sculptures and paintings and, by happy coincidence, discovered that the artist actually lived nearby.
As they became acquainted, it became clear that Szukalski’s situation at the time — living anonymously in California — obscured the fame he had achieved in his youth, as well as his view of himself as something of a genius.
But with the good came the bad, including evidence of past bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Some protest — as Szukalski himself does — that he reformed. Others, including his one-time friend George DiCaprio (who with his son, Leonardo, is a producer on the film), came to find his past actions as unforgivable.
“Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski” is available now on Netflix.
Read the story at The New York Times.
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