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The Art Forger

By B A. Shapiro

The Art Forger
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2012,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: May 2013,
    384 pages.

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Bob W. (Oakland, TN) (09/10/12)

The Art Forger
In 1990 the largest unsolved art theft occurred in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Museum: thirteen works of art worth more than $500 million in today's economy. "The Art Forger" is a novel that is tied to this theft. Claire Roth, a struggling artist, is the primary character.

The writer knows her subject matter. She is extremely knowledgeable regarding the art world---descriptions of the details of various paintings are fascinating: brushstrokes; thickness of paints; color saturation; etc. The descriptions of forgers and their "works" are effective additions to the story. In addition, there are descriptions of the tests to determine the authenticity of classical paintings and conversely how forgers can duplicate those test results.

But the book is uneven at times---continuous flashbacks; entire chapters that are unnecessary and add little or nothing to the novel.

In summary: I really wanted to like this book and did enjoy part of it. However, for me it's an average read.
Beth F. (Bloomfield Hills, MI) (09/09/12)

The Art Forger
There is alot of information regarding the art world both original and forgeries. But there was something about the story and the mystery that got be going from the first page. An enjoyable read.
Patricia H. (Norman, OK) (09/04/12)

When is a forgery better than the original?
Perception is not always reality and getting it right sometimes is less important than keeping face, especially if you belong to the upper echelon of the art world. Claire Roth has a real artistic talent but also a stubborn streak that won't let the truth hide even if it costs what she most wants. Can she afford the price?

The book pulls the reader into the world of art, only some of it is not pretty. But it is a page turner. Not a mystery per se but certainly suspenseful.
Phyllis R. (Rochester Hills, MI) (09/03/12)

The art of forging Art
One of the main reasons one reads is to learn and in "The Art Forger" one learns about the world of painters, dealers, curators, forgers, and copiers. Author, B.A. Shapiro, adds a clever twist with an intrigue involving Claire Roth, the Gardner Museum in Boston founded by Isabella Stewart Gardner and her contacts with Edgar Degas. After reading "Dancing for Degas" by Kathryn Wagner, this novel gave more insight to the life and times of Degas. Highly recommended.
Mary G. (River Forest, IL) (09/02/12)

An artistic soap opera
I'm an art fan and spent wonderful hours with Shapiro's explanations of the business of art forgeries, how they are perfected, how they are unmasked, and how they've made dealers rich - or incarcerated. On that score, I highly recommend the book and confess i enjoyed it all the way through. It is, however, a novel, so demands a story. As a thread tying together the more interesting facts about artists, especially Degas, and the forgery business, it's good enough to fool the reader into feeling like it's a summer read but, on its own - not so good. I turned the last page without feeling I knew the characters, or that they were worth knowing. But who cared? Somehow, as a whole, it's a book I'll pass along to friends, and I salute Shapiro for working fascinating knowledge into soap opera. One frustration: because so much of the story is based on fact, I spent a lot of time on the internet trying to separate truth from fiction - and maybe that's not such a bad thing either.
Karen R. (Locust Grove, VA) (09/01/12)

A captivating mystery in the world of art forgery
The Art Forger is a very good mystery filled with fascinating facts about the art industry. It revolves around reproductions, art forgery and a missing masterpiece. The fictional story is based on a real event - the largest art heist ever in which 13 works of art from such masters as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Degas were stolen from the Gardner Museum in Boston. I loved the main character, Claire. She is a talented but struggling artist, who a few years earlier, was shunned by the art world thru no fault of her own. She has exceptional artistic abilities and also expertise in the art of reproduction. I felt her frustration as she struggles to get the recognition she deserves. The development of the additional characters was well done - the obsessive collectors, devious painters and art dealers. I appreciate the author’s extensive study in the world of masterpieces.
Marti (08/18/12)

Stolen or Forged
I love books that start with a well-known and accurate historical fact and then create a piece of fiction around that fact. B. A. Shapiro did just that in her book, The Art Forger. In 1990, various pieces of artwork were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Three of the missing pieces were drawings from Degas. From this we are drawn into a world of stolen art and forgeries.

The main character, Clair, is an artist, who has been maligned in the cutthroat art world. She is skilled at copying specific artists and wants to show her own paintings. Claire is asked to paint/forge a copy of one of the stolen works from the Gardner Museum in trade for a one-woman show of her work. This decision leads her to a search through history and time about the artist, Degas and Isabella Gardner. Is the painting After Bath by Degas an original or a forgery? The plot continues to unfold highlighting the controversial missing painting.

The main character, Claire, as an artist, was easily be led by her desire for exposure for her art, which can be universal in most people's desires. The unfolding of the plot does, at times, slow and then speeds up as in real life where nothing happens and then a waterfall of events occur almost simultaneously. The book does come to a head with a couple of surprises.

The book was an enjoyable read. There was a lot of information about painting styles and materials as well as historical information about paintings. The story did not rush to an ending and did seemingly meander at times going back and forth in time as the story unfolded.
Vivian Harrington (08/11/12)

The Art Forger - a tour de force mystery in the art world
The Art Forger is a delightful novel of intrigue that involves questions of forgery, the still unsolved March 1990 heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, a blackballed artist whom nobody believed had been the actual painter of a purported masterpiece by her lover, an improbable artistic triumph, and the imagined relationship between Gardner and Edgar Degas. The theme of the story seams to question whether experts and art lovers see what they want to see and authentic works of suspect origin to protect the name of a venerable institution or from a more base perception to protect a valuable asset.

I found the novel particularly fascinating given the recent exposes in Vanity Fair and the New York papers regarding the questioned provenance of several paintings sold by a well known esteemed gallery that has since shuttered its doors. This story resonates because we all know that even the most well regarded experts have been fooled. It makes one wonder how many museums unknowingly display wrongly attributed works.

While the novel starts off a bit slow, within a few chapters it picks up and reeled me in like a prize fish. This is a great story and I can see this ultimately made into a successful film.
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