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The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
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The Art Forger (2012)

by B. A. Shapiro

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1,1481407,114 (3.75)103
  1. 00
    The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Both novels deal with forgery, but The Tragedy of Arthur makes notions of the false and the real the thematic heart of the book.
  2. 00
    Catch Me if You Can by Frank W. Abagnale (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  3. 00
    The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith (mamzel)
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I thought that this was a) historical fiction and b) a mystery. Both those things turned out to be true in part but essentially this was a contemporary literary fiction novel. I think my rating may reflect in part my sense of disappointment about that misconception. However, being from the Boston area, I enjoyed all the local color and I found the information about art very interesting. In particular, seeing the "art scene" in terms of a business, a way of making a living, was fascinating. I found the historical fiction parts about Isabella Stewart Gardner fun but not completely believable. I also thought that Aiden Markel's "big reveal" predictable and it bothered me all along that Claire wasn't more cautious/suspicious. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jan 29, 2016 |
The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro was quite a bit more than I expected. Set in Boston, it explores the world of fine art, including the evaluation of paintings and the politics of gallery shows. It also includes references to the $500 million dollar art theft at the Gardner Museum some 20 plus years prior to the events of this story.

The protagonist is Claire Roth, a young artist who has recently received a masters degree and is looking to make a name for herself with her painting. Unfortunately, her former lover was Isaac Cullion, former teacher, and the critics golden boy. When Isaac was creatively blocked, Caire painted a picture for him called "4D," depicting time as a river. The critics loved it, and piled a multitude of praise on Isaac. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing. However, Isaac became more and more distant and finally could no longer look at her without the guilt for his deception eating him away. Able to stand it no longer, Isaac broke it off with Claire. Feeling like the proverbial woman scorned, Claire went to the museum housing 4D and told the director that she had in fact painted the work being attributed to Isaac Cullion. After a series of tests and comparisons, it was determined that Isaac was indeed the painter of record (although the finding was not unanimous and there were other factors involved.) Claire was dubbed 'the great pretender' and was blacklisted from every major museum.

Fast forward three years. Claire is still painting, although still not able to show or sell any of her work. To pay the bills, she paints for online reproductions.com, or repro for short. Repro had sent her to classes where she learned how to paint high quality reproductions. She even became certified in Degas reproductions. Then one day in walks Aiden Markell, owner of the famous Markell G gallery and former broker for Isaac Cullion. He had a proposal for her, although he would not give out all the details until she agreed, which she eventually did. Markell had somehow obtained the original Degas painting "After the Bath," which was one of the paintings stolen from the Gardner museum. He was to pay Claire $50,000 and give her work a private show in his gallery if she would paint a copy of 'After the Bath.' The money was nice, but the real incentive was the private show where she could showcase her work and talent in order to make a name for herself (other than the great pretender.)

When Markell dropped his original off, Claire had a gut feeling that something was wrong. The painting just did not look like Degas' other works. As she looked more carefully and performed what non-invasive tests she could, she finally determined that Markell's painting, the one that had hung in the Gardner museum for nearly 100 years before its theft, was indeed a forgery. But who could she tell? Who would believe the great pretender? And besides, how could she tell anyone without revealing she was in possession of stolen goods? So she finished her copy, collected her $50,000, and prepared for her one woman show at Markell G's. Aiden, for his part, was to sell Claire's copy and anonymously return the original (which was really a fake unbeknownst to him) to the Gardner. However, the man Markell sold Claire's copy to was arrested, and Claire became worried that she and Aiden, with whom she had become romantically involved, would not be far behind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I learned that artists see the world differently than I do, and that neither is any more correct than the other. Yet for a short time, I was allowed a peek into their world, to see how they view this world and what things are important to them. I also learned way more about art forgery than I will ever need to know, since I can't even draw a straight line let alone paint a masterpiece. This is not the typical 'who done it,' but instead more like 'where is it.' I also really felt for Claire as she, despite her wonderful talent, seemed to make one mistake after another. But that is what makes these novels seem real to me, because real people do make mistakes, sometimes the same one over and over again. As I said earlier, this is a different type of mystery, but variety is the spice of life. ( )
  NPJacobsen | Jan 28, 2016 |
The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro was quite a bit more than I expected. Set in Boston, it explores the world of fine art, including the evaluation of paintings and the politics of gallery shows. It also includes references to the $500 million dollar art theft at the Gardner Museum some 20 plus years prior to the events of this story.

The protagonist is Claire Roth, a young artist who has recently received a masters degree and is looking to make a name for herself with her painting. Unfortunately, her former lover was Isaac Cullion, former teacher, and the critics golden boy. When Isaac was creatively blocked, Caire painted a picture for him called "4D," depicting time as a river. The critics loved it, and piled a multitude of praise on Isaac. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing. However, Isaac became more and more distant and finally could no longer look at her without the guilt for his deception eating him away. Able to stand it no longer, Isaac broke it off with Claire. Feeling like the proverbial woman scorned, Claire went to the museum housing 4D and told the director that she had in fact painted the work being attributed to Isaac Cullion. After a series of tests and comparisons, it was determined that Isaac was indeed the painter of record (although the finding was not unanimous and there were other factors involved.) Claire was dubbed 'the great pretender' and was blacklisted from every major museum.

Fast forward three years. Claire is still painting, although still not able to show or sell any of her work. To pay the bills, she paints for online reproductions.com, or repro for short. Repro had sent her to classes where she learned how to paint high quality reproductions. She even became certified in Degas reproductions. Then one day in walks Aiden Markell, owner of the famous Markell G gallery and former broker for Isaac Cullion. He had a proposal for her, although he would not give out all the details until she agreed, which she eventually did. Markell had somehow obtained the original Degas painting "After the Bath," which was one of the paintings stolen from the Gardner museum. He was to pay Claire $50,000 and give her work a private show in his gallery if she would paint a copy of 'After the Bath.' The money was nice, but the real incentive was the private show where she could showcase her work and talent in order to make a name for herself (other than the great pretender.)

When Markell dropped his original off, Claire had a gut feeling that something was wrong. The painting just did not look like Degas' other works. As she looked more carefully and performed what non-invasive tests she could, she finally determined that Markell's painting, the one that had hung in the Gardner museum for nearly 100 years before its theft, was indeed a forgery. But who could she tell? Who would believe the great pretender? And besides, how could she tell anyone without revealing she was in possession of stolen goods? So she finished her copy, collected her $50,000, and prepared for her one woman show at Markell G's. Aiden, for his part, was to sell Claire's copy and anonymously return the original (which was really a fake unbeknownst to him) to the Gardner. However, the man Markell sold Claire's copy to was arrested, and Claire became worried that she and Aiden, with whom she had become romantically involved, would not be far behind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I learned that artists see the world differently than I do, and that neither is any more correct than the other. Yet for a short time, I was allowed a peek into their world, to see how they view this world and what things are important to them. I also learned way more about art forgery than I will ever need to know, since I can't even draw a straight line let alone paint a masterpiece. This is not the typical 'who done it,' but instead more like 'where is it.' I also really felt for Claire as she, despite her wonderful talent, seemed to make one mistake after another. But that is what makes these novels seem real to me, because real people do make mistakes, sometimes the same one over and over again. As I said earlier, this is a different type of mystery, but variety is the spice of life. ( )
  NPJacobsen | Jan 28, 2016 |
The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro was quite a bit more than I expected. Set in Boston, it explores the world of fine art, including the evaluation of paintings and the politics of gallery shows. It also includes references to the $500 million dollar art theft at the Gardner Museum some 20 plus years prior to the events of this story.

The protagonist is Claire Roth, a young artist who has recently received a masters degree and is looking to make a name for herself with her painting. Unfortunately, her former lover was Isaac Cullion, former teacher, and the critics golden boy. When Isaac was creatively blocked, Caire painted a picture for him called "4D," depicting time as a river. The critics loved it, and piled a multitude of praise on Isaac. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing. However, Isaac became more and more distant and finally could no longer look at her without the guilt for his deception eating him away. Able to stand it no longer, Isaac broke it off with Claire. Feeling like the proverbial woman scorned, Claire went to the museum housing 4D and told the director that she had in fact painted the work being attributed to Isaac Cullion. After a series of tests and comparisons, it was determined that Isaac was indeed the painter of record (although the finding was not unanimous and there were other factors involved.) Claire was dubbed 'the great pretender' and was blacklisted from every major museum.

Fast forward three years. Claire is still painting, although still not able to show or sell any of her work. To pay the bills, she paints for online reproductions.com, or repro for short. Repro had sent her to classes where she learned how to paint high quality reproductions. She even became certified in Degas reproductions. Then one day in walks Aiden Markell, owner of the famous Markell G gallery and former broker for Isaac Cullion. He had a proposal for her, although he would not give out all the details until she agreed, which she eventually did. Markell had somehow obtained the original Degas painting "After the Bath," which was one of the paintings stolen from the Gardner museum. He was to pay Claire $50,000 and give her work a private show in his gallery if she would paint a copy of 'After the Bath.' The money was nice, but the real incentive was the private show where she could showcase her work and talent in order to make a name for herself (other than the great pretender.)

When Markell dropped his original off, Claire had a gut feeling that something was wrong. The painting just did not look like Degas' other works. As she looked more carefully and performed what non-invasive tests she could, she finally determined that Markell's painting, the one that had hung in the Gardner museum for nearly 100 years before its theft, was indeed a forgery. But who could she tell? Who would believe the great pretender? And besides, how could she tell anyone without revealing she was in possession of stolen goods? So she finished her copy, collected her $50,000, and prepared for her one woman show at Markell G's. Aiden, for his part, was to sell Claire's copy and anonymously return the original (which was really a fake unbeknownst to him) to the Gardner. However, the man Markell sold Claire's copy to was arrested, and Claire became worried that she and Aiden, with whom she had become romantically involved, would not be far behind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I learned that artists see the world differently than I do, and that neither is any more correct than the other. Yet for a short time, I was allowed a peek into their world, to see how they view this world and what things are important to them. I also learned way more about art forgery than I will ever need to know, since I can't even draw a straight line let alone paint a masterpiece. This is not the typical 'who done it,' but instead more like 'where is it.' I also really felt for Claire as she, despite her wonderful talent, seemed to make one mistake after another. But that is what makes these novels seem real to me, because real people do make mistakes, sometimes the same one over and over again. As I said earlier, this is a different type of mystery, but variety is the spice of life. ( )
  NPJacobsen | Jan 28, 2016 |
The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro was quite a bit more than I expected. Set in Boston, it explores the world of fine art, including the evaluation of paintings and the politics of gallery shows. It also includes references to the $500 million dollar art theft at the Gardner Museum some 20 plus years prior to the events of this story.

The protagonist is Claire Roth, a young artist who has recently received a masters degree and is looking to make a name for herself with her painting. Unfortunately, her former lover was Isaac Cullion, former teacher, and the critics golden boy. When Isaac was creatively blocked, Caire painted a picture for him called "4D," depicting time as a river. The critics loved it, and piled a multitude of praise on Isaac. On the surface, this would appear to be a good thing. However, Isaac became more and more distant and finally could no longer look at her without the guilt for his deception eating him away. Able to stand it no longer, Isaac broke it off with Claire. Feeling like the proverbial woman scorned, Claire went to the museum housing 4D and told the director that she had in fact painted the work being attributed to Isaac Cullion. After a series of tests and comparisons, it was determined that Isaac was indeed the painter of record (although the finding was not unanimous and there were other factors involved.) Claire was dubbed 'the great pretender' and was blacklisted from every major museum.

Fast forward three years. Claire is still painting, although still not able to show or sell any of her work. To pay the bills, she paints for online reproductions.com, or repro for short. Repro had sent her to classes where she learned how to paint high quality reproductions. She even became certified in Degas reproductions. Then one day in walks Aiden Markell, owner of the famous Markell G gallery and former broker for Isaac Cullion. He had a proposal for her, although he would not give out all the details until she agreed, which she eventually did. Markell had somehow obtained the original Degas painting "After the Bath," which was one of the paintings stolen from the Gardner museum. He was to pay Claire $50,000 and give her work a private show in his gallery if she would paint a copy of 'After the Bath.' The money was nice, but the real incentive was the private show where she could showcase her work and talent in order to make a name for herself (other than the great pretender.)

When Markell dropped his original off, Claire had a gut feeling that something was wrong. The painting just did not look like Degas' other works. As she looked more carefully and performed what non-invasive tests she could, she finally determined that Markell's painting, the one that had hung in the Gardner museum for nearly 100 years before its theft, was indeed a forgery. But who could she tell? Who would believe the great pretender? And besides, how could she tell anyone without revealing she was in possession of stolen goods? So she finished her copy, collected her $50,000, and prepared for her one woman show at Markell G's. Aiden, for his part, was to sell Claire's copy and anonymously return the original (which was really a fake unbeknownst to him) to the Gardner. However, the man Markell sold Claire's copy to was arrested, and Claire became worried that she and Aiden, with whom she had become romantically involved, would not be far behind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I learned that artists see the world differently than I do, and that neither is any more correct than the other. Yet for a short time, I was allowed a peek into their world, to see how they view this world and what things are important to them. I also learned way more about art forgery than I will ever need to know, since I can't even draw a straight line let alone paint a masterpiece. This is not the typical 'who done it,' but instead more like 'where is it.' I also really felt for Claire as she, despite her wonderful talent, seemed to make one mistake after another. But that is what makes these novels seem real to me, because real people do make mistakes, sometimes the same one over and over again. As I said earlier, this is a different type of mystery, but variety is the spice of life. ( )
  NPJacobsen | Jan 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)


Readers looking for insight into the Gardner heist will have to go elsewhere. But readers seeking an engaging novel about artists and art scandals will find “The Art Forger” rewarding for its skillful balance of brisk plotting, significant emotional depth and a multi-layered narration rich with a sense of moral consequence.

 
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Epigraph
A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination; it must never be a copy.
--Edgar Degas
Dedication
To Dan, who never gave up
First words
I step back and scrutinize the paintings.
Quotations
A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination; it must never be a copy. --- Edgar Degas
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Book description
A Degas painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. A few years after suffering personal disappointment from her artist/lover which also cast her reputation away, a handsome suave art gallery owner enters her life with an intriguing proposition to help the museum, benefit mankind and recover her career aspirations at the same time.
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An artist whose reputation has been tarnished stumbles on a piece of art that disappeared twenty-five years ago and agrees to forge it for a gallery owner, until she realizes that the art she is forging may itself be a forgery.

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