Three hours of Frederick Wiseman watching people watch art, restore art, revel in the possibilities of art: there’s serene poetry here. In “National Gallery,” as in most of his work of the past five decades, Wiseman takes a few weeks to capture what goes on at an institution, listens, observes, goes back to his edit suite and makes sense of it all. In this case, Wiseman spent twelve weeks in 2012, while there were major exhibits of J. M. W. Turner, Titian and Da Vinci. The site is London’s National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where he haunts the public spaces, but also goes behind the scenes to observe conservators at work, as well as the staff discussing how to keep interest in the museum high without losing sight of their primary mission of keeping the art in the public eye. Wiseman provides a magnificent immersion in the life of the eye as well. 181m. (Ray Pride)
“National Gallery” opens Friday, November 21 for a two-week engagement at Siskel.