Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Art Forger

There seems to be an abundance of books on art forgery and theft in the past year. I think I have read them all, and this one is one of the best. While it takes the reader through the Gardner heist, it offers an alternative ending that is wholly satisfying.

Claire is an artist with a scandal in her past. She currently works for an art reproduction company, making copies of other, more classic  and well known paintings. Her specialty is Degas. She has been trained in how to actually forge a painting, so that it looks exactly like the original. Aiden Markel is a mover and shaker in Boston's art world. He knows Claire from the time before the scandal. He approaches Claire with a job offer that is borderline legal: Aiden wants her to copy a painting that was part of the Gardner Museum heist. He is offering her a lot of money and promises to return the original to the museum. Being very short of cash, Claire agrees - and makes a deal with the devil.

The story line focuses on the creation of the copy and the growing relationship between Claire and Aiden.  Filled with technical art terms (plein air, digital wavelet decomposition) the book is interesting in that it gives an education about some aspects of the mechanics of painting. It also gives some interesting glimpses into the world of stolen art. Are they really used as collateral for drug  and arms deals? There are also short asides about real art forgeries written into the story line.

I liked this book mostly because I learned something new from it. It's a short, fast and interesting read. Go visit the Art Institute after you read it, you'll look at the paintings in a different light.

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