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Borrowing from her father's art with a collection of reflections

There are pack rats, and then there was the noted New York art dealer and gallery owner Allan Stone . Technically, he wasn't a pack rat, since the stuff cluttering his home tended to be amazing -- totems, tribal fetishes, great works of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. But as Olympia Stone , the youngest of his six children, attests, the junk sculpture, masks, and taxidermied human heads freaked out her and her siblings.

But Olympia's Stone's short documentary about her late father is not about how such a surreally crowded house with such a seemingly obsessive man affected her family. "The Collector" is less interesting than that. It's a runny valentine to him and his place in the art world. Allan Stone is very much alive in his daughter's movie (he died in his sleep last year at 74 ). But he's not as compelling in it as befits a man whose flamboyance and voracious appetites for life and art had people referring to him as Citizen Stone.

The film, with its obligatory jazz score, is a collection of happy anecdotes about Stone: how, for instance, Elaine de Kooning brought him from practicing law into the art world after she came to see him about a divorce from her husband, Willem. Stone gave Wayne Thiebaud his first New York show in 1962 and found a certain genius in the demolished vehicular sculptures of John Chamberlain .

In short, he was an idiosyncratic visionary. But to Olympia, understandably, he was Dad. And the place where the visionary and the father would seem to converge is the home. Along those lines, all "The Collector" gives us are shots of what he had accumulated over the years -- the house looks like three museums belched up their magnificent contents.

In her adoringly childlike narration, Olympia says her father was not one for self-analysis. But she doesn't exactly break him down, either. A few on-camera interviews with Stone's first wife provide a rare glimpse of the toll life with such an outsize personality might take. The Stone children who appear in the film suggest that life as one of Allan's kids felt relatively unusual. But actually we learn that having him as a father was by no means damaging. The worst we hear about is their being dragged to other galleries. Even on that score, "The Collector" fails to give us a sense of what Stone's gallery or any of what he collected meant to them. It's not so much a complicated appraisal of an aesthete and a dad as it is a dutiful eulogy.

Wesley Morris can be reached at For more on movies, go to movies/blog.


The Collector

Written and directed by: Olympia Stone

At: MFA, tonight and various dates through July 8

Running time: 62 minutes