Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber * * *

I felt both extremely focused and detached, as if experiencing my life for the first time and without the blurring of worry or regret. Not in the least like hash and the furthest thing from acid.
Chaz Wilmot on drugs. As he explains, not your ordinary drugs, but something exotic that has him living the life of Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez. As he flickers between the 17th and 21st centuries, he ponders the big questions: What is art? What is creativity? What is real? Is there a objective reality?
I had no idea who I was. ... I might be Chaz Wilmot, hack artist, forger of a painting now hailed as one of the great works of Velasquez, hiding from criminals. I might be Chaz Wilmot, successful New York painter, now insane ... Or I might be Diego Velasquez, caught in a nightmare. Or some combination. Or someone else entirely. Or maybe this was hell itself. How could I tell?
This existential angst is interwoven with the fascinating world of fine art forgeries.

The book also includes many esoteric art discussions which will be beyond the reach of anyone without a solid background. An art appreciation class and brief visits to the Louvre, Prado and Uffizi is not sufficient.

This is a book of many levels, reminiscent of old science fiction novel with their mixture of technology, fantasy and observation.

For example:
Having talent and not putting it on the line is just like not having it and desperately wanting to be recognized. It's the same kind of pathetic.

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