Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World seeks to explore the mystery surrounding the last years of one fictional spurned artist, Harriet Burden. Widow of the infamous art dealer Felix Lord, Burden decides to play a prank on the art world. From 1999-2003, she embarks on a project called Maskings, enlisting three male artists to pose as "pseudonyms" for her, exhibiting her art as their own. The project is meant to both "expose the antifemale bias of the art world" and "uncover the complex workings of human perception and how unconscious ideas about gender, race and celebrity influence a viewer's understanding of a given work of art." And once the gag is pulled off, once the critics and collectors are slavering all over the work and treating the pseudonyms as the newest art world gods, Harriet Burden will "unmask" herself, proving once and for all how ridiculous the whole notion of fame is. ...
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