Thursday, June 23, 2011

Art Voyeur


Anybody who knows me well knows that while I would never consider myself an artist, I love the visual arts. On a trip to New York, I choose MOMA over shopping. In Paris, I went to the d'Orsay when most of our group went somewhere else. For several summers, I've tagged along to Chicago when my husband had a trade show, and I spent hours each time at the Art Institute. I must give some credit to Mrs. Evans and Mr. Flowers, team teachers of the Humanities class I took in high school. If that class didn't get us ready for Jeopardy, nothing would.

I just finished An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin--yes, that Steve Martin. The comedian, the guy with the arrow through his head, one of the newer members of Steep Canyon Rangers. This book immerses readers in the art world--New York City's art world (with an assumption that there is no other). Daniel, the narrator is an art writer and friend of Lacey Yeager, a larger-than-life character determined to rise to the top of the art field by any means necessary. She starts in the catacombs of Sotheby's and uses her wits more than her scruples to succeed.

Martin has created exciting, believable characters that draw a reader through his story, but he impressively fleshes out the details of the changing art climate and the effects of politics and economics, moving through 9/11 and the more recent banking crisis. The narrator is endearing and ingenuous. I could imagine a young Steve Martin playing him. He maintains a cautiously affectionate relationship with Lacey, while maintaining shrewd objectivity.

I seem to remember that after the success of The DaVinci Code, I saw an illustrated edition, including the works of art that play a role in the story. I could imagine the same with this book. Martin includes enough about real artists, living and dead, that I wondered which were actually fictional. Somehow I can imagine art collectors and gallery owners reading and trying to identify themselves--with Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" playing softly in the background.
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3 comments:

Laurie Kolp said...

To think Steve Martin wrote a book... and a good one at that. I wonder who the ghostwriter was?

Nancy said...

He's Bren writing good stuff for years, talk about a multitalented man. Years ago, I had his short story collection Cruel Shoes . He Leo did a ply about a meeting of Van Gogh nd Einstein, if I remember correctly.

Cozy in Texas said...

Steve Martin has written novellas before and I believe some were made into movies. This sounds interesting.
Ann