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The Art Forger: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro

The Art Forger: A Novel (original 2012; edition 2012)

by B. A. Shapiro

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81610611,155 (3.81)71
Title:The Art Forger: A Novel
Authors:B. A. Shapiro
Info:Algonquin Books (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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Claire Roth, an aspiring artist in Boston, has been a bit of an outcast in the art world lately and is working making copies for Reproductions.com to make ends meet. She is approached by Aiden Markel, the owner of well-known gallery Markel G, with a proposition she's unsure she can take: make a copy of one of the Degas paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the notorious 1990 heist, and he'll return to the original to the museum as well as make her name by offering her a show.

The level of detail about art and forgery included as Claire researches the painting and talks about what she does for her job at "Repro" lend a credibility to this thriller about an unsolved mystery. I simultaneously learned a lot and was left wanting to read and learn more about the Gardner heist and art forgery. I read fast, as the narrative moves along and I found myself unsure to the last about the "goodness" of some of the characters. Claire impressed me and irritated me by turns, as she was clearly smart about art but not about some of her relationships, and her naivete was grating. Flashbacks to events of three years earlier and insertions of (fictitious) letters from Isabella to her niece Amelia rounded out the story nicely. ( )
  bell7 | Jul 21, 2014 |
As someone who lives in the Boston area and who has heard about the art theft at the Isabela Steward Gardner museum, this book brought some new insights. The author, Shapiro, clearly knows art and is very passionate about it - this is passed along to the reader. Where the story falls is the love story aspect - a little too pat and a little to convenient.

I would recommend this book just for Shaprio's take on art theft alone! ( )
  mfbarry | Jun 24, 2014 |
Claire Roth is a fine artist and a very talented copyist. She earns a living by painting for Reproductions.com, which specializes in providing copies of classic paintings to those who can't afford the real thing, but want an actual painting to hang in their homes. When well-known gallery owner, Aiden Markel, comes to her with a proposition, it doesn't seem that far afield from what she's been doing. He claims to have gotten his hands on an actual painting by Degas which was among those stolen from Boston's Gardner Museum in 1990. He wants Claire to make a copy which he will sell to a foreign collector, and then restore the original to the Gardner. Of course, she will be well compensated for her efforts. It doesn't hurt that Aiden is wealthy and attractive, and soon has Claire under his spell.
This is a fascinating look at the art world--the politics and gossip, both now and in the past. Shapiro's descriptions of the techniques of realistically forging a work of art are amazing--one would think this detail would be dry and uninteresting, but Shapiro makes us care so much about Claire and her painting, that every word seems vital to the story. Who knew that one could create an oil painting more quickly if the painting were baked--in an oven--between the layers of paint? The story is full of twists and turns--sometimes so many it's hard to keep track of Who's on first. Claire, though, gets it into her head that the painting Aiden has brought her may have been the painting stolen in 1990, but is NOT an original Degas! The way this works out is clever and suspenseful. Very hard to put down. The Art Forger is a spellbinding book--read it! ( )
  alexann | Jun 3, 2014 |
Picked it up somewhat begrudgingly, and could not put it down. Artist Claire has immense talent - and a reputation besmirched by well-meaning but unforgiven blunders in the art world. So she's churning out copies of the Masters for an online company that sells them to buyers happy to get a copy that is still a real painting. This keeps Claire's lights on, while she continues to work on her own original paintings, hoping that someday, she'll be able to get a foot in the door of the highly political and interconnected art world again.

Then Aiden Markel, owner of the prestigious gallery approaches her with an offer she can't refuse - make one copy of a stolen painting. Claire will make bundles of money, AND get her own show in said gallery. Not good enough? How about Aiden's plan to fob the copy off on the buyer, and return the stolen painting to the museum? Now, it's really a good deed, not fraud. It doesn't hurt that Aiden sweeps Claire off her feet with compliments, luxury, and a steamy romance.

Win-win, right? As long as Claire can create a copy real enough to fool the authenticators. Because if she can't, or they get caught...

I loved all the little details - the books Claire studies, the oven she insists upon to dry the paint, her hanging upside to study the painting, painting for 14 hours a day. There was SO much inside info about the art world and the whole politics of having a "hit painting" that I found fascinating. Claire's obsession with "getting it right" with her faux Degas was wholly believable, and when complications ensued... I kept turning pages, and the various twists kept me enthralled. ( )
  writerbeverly | May 1, 2014 |
As a big fan of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, it was a delight to read this fictional tale by B.A. Shapiro. The suspense is carried throughout. I was hopefully anxious about hearing a plausible story of that "Heist" from the museum.

Ms. Shapiro tells an interesting tale of art students & professors, big museum politics, some starving artists, gallery owner shenanigans, and art forgery techniques. Brava to her style of writing and command of a readers' total interest even when imparting technical information.

I am looking forward to her next book. ( )
  Patbilly | Apr 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (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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To Dan, who never gave up
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I step back and scrutinize the paintings.
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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Boston painter Claire Roth has survived financially by painting reproductions, so when influential gallery owner Aiden Markel arrives with a bizarre proposal--her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--she says yes. As she works, Claire and Aiden become lovers, but she doesn't tell him about her discovery that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This knowledge is Claire's lifeline when the finished forgery is discovered, Aiden and then Claire are both arrested, and only she can save them.… (more)

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