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Art in novels: “An Object of Beauty”, by Steve Martin, actor and collector

Object-Of-Beauty-2-692x1024An Object of Beauty is a novel written by Steve Martin and published in 2010, a few months after another art system based novel – “A nightfall”, by Michael Cunnigham – came out. It relates the story of Lacey Yeager, a witty, sexy and unscrupulous employee at Sotheby’s who climbs the art market thanks to a mixture of luck and strong ambition. The New York’s art scene, from old masters to contemporary art, is very well painted, rich in details and insiders’ point of views, mostly provided by the narrator, a nerdy and romantic art writer called Daniel Franks.

Nevertheless, the book remains unresolved. Lacey Yeager comes out like nothing more than a conventional Bret Easton Ellis character, but definitely less eccentric. The art world too, described by the author, appears to be mono-dimensional, with just a bunch of drivers mainly moved by money and speculation. From a respected collector, as Steve Martin is, you would expect a better comprehension of the art truth, instead of a basic description of the art market’s lies, sometimes too near to Tom Wolf ‘s “The painted word” (1975), all of them already well known.

January 18, 2017