The Art Forger

The Art Forger

A Novel

Book - 2012
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wcbind421
Sep 01, 2020

This literary thriller is based on the renowned 1990 unsolved theft of 13 paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. A talented but disgraced young painter is lured into a conspiracy with a dealer to copy one of them and pass it off as the original to an unscrupulous collector. The plot weaves through three time periods to uncover the history of the original painting, the events leading to the painter's disgrace and the creation of both the forgery and the painter's own acknowledged work. She and the dealer fall for each other, natch. The conspiracy is foiled, further complicating matters.

The improbable plot combines with solid detail about the technical aspects of creating a credible forgery. A well-paced, good read slightly spoiled by an unsatisfying ending.

IndyPL_SteveB Feb 13, 2019

This is a clever novel with many twists, a mystery novel, and a rumination on art and reality, with a sidelong glance at romance. The Art Forger is a talented young painter named Claire Roth, blackballed from major art shows by tragic circumstances having to do with the death of a former lover. To make a living she has been painting openly-acknowledged reproductions of classic works for sales to collectors. An important gallery owner says that if she will forge a copy of an art piece for him and NOT publicly acknowledge it as a reproduction, he will help re-launch her career.

Shapiro gives us many details and history on real art forgery, which is fascinating. And I liked her thoughts on the obsessive devotion of artists and art collectors. But what really makes the story work is how she reveals the story of the painting and Clair’s own history layer by layer, like a painter gradually removing the paint from an old canvas and building a new painting with careful brush strokes. Really well done.

IndyPL_SteveB Feb 13, 2019

This is a clever novel with many twists, a mystery novel, and a rumination on art and reality, with a sidelong glance at romance. The Art Forger is a talented young painter named Claire Roth, blackballed from major art shows by tragic circumstances having to do with the death of a former lover. To make a living she has been painting openly-acknowledged reproductions of classic works for sales to collectors. An important gallery owner says that if she will forge a copy of an art piece for him and NOT publicly acknowledge it as a reproduction, he will help re-launch her career.

Shapiro gives us many details and history on real art forgery, which is fascinating. And I liked her thoughts on the obsessive devotion of artists and art collectors. But what really makes the story work is how she reveals the story of the painting and Clair’s own history layer by layer, like a painter gradually removing the paint from an old canvas and building a new painting with careful brush strokes. Really well done.

ArapahoeCynthiaK Apr 14, 2017

Budding artist's career derailed by an affair and ends up painting reproductions.....great for anyone interested in the art world, collecting and forgery!

I would suggest also "Provenance" by Laney Salisbury...non-fiction, beautifully written, about a gifted copier who really was hired (and trapped) by a highly successful con man, who's deceptions rattled (probably still does!) some of the greatest art collections in the world. But fiction is fun too, esp well done like this one.

afarr16 Sep 10, 2014

This book is like candy. If you're familiar with Boston and the ISG, it's kind of a must read. It's not a masterpiece, or particularly challenging, but a good vacation book and a fun idea.

j
JRowe
May 12, 2014

from Rocky 5/2014

s
sess430
Dec 31, 2013

I love art & I love Boston so I really wanted to like this book but was sorely disappointed. It is full of hackneyed cliches. This is one example: after a character says "You've fallen in love with her", the reply is "Is it that obvious?" followed by "Takes one to know one." I was annoyed by the numerous sentence fragments (an example from pg. 58): "Alive and intact." These were adjectives to describe a noun in the previous sentence. The plot twists strained credulity and the characters weren't very likable.

hania4987 Oct 26, 2013

fun read ... the details of the painting technique are interesting ... my favorite, though, Isabelle's letters -- wish there were more

b
bigreader69
Sep 06, 2013

July 2014

b
BobScott36
Aug 05, 2013

This is a great read. You may struggle to begin with, but when you become acquainted with the three different timelines involved, the suspense and intensity increase.

m
mockingbird7
Jul 31, 2013

This book has an entertaining plot and makes a nice summer read. It even provides a little education on the arts along the way.

s
szarnstorff
Jul 21, 2013

Excellent mystery mixed with history and facts about art. Fascinating even if you aren't an artist. Paints a picture in your mind and makes you appreciate art again. Interesting story about relationships and true friends.

w
wozebooks
Jul 13, 2013

Art Forger is a very good read. Good story, interesting characters and moves along at a good pace. Lots of art history and painting info about a very complex process.

b
BlueHippo
Jul 04, 2013

Really enjoyed this book. A great fiction story with history and actual events mixed in. Learned a lot about the art of making copies of art work!

Jane60201 Jul 04, 2013

I agree that the book was mildly entertaining but the plot and the conclusion seemed pretty improbable.

e
EmilyEm
Jul 02, 2013

Claire Roth is a recent MFA graduate and painter living in Boston with a controversial past. She makes ends meet by painting reproductions. When one of the city?s best art dealers commissions her to copy an Edgar Degas painting After the Bath that was one stolen in the unsolved heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and offers her a show of her own paintings at his gallery Claire makes a bargain that sets all kinds of action in motion.

Shapiro?s book is ambitious told in three threads?the current, three years in the past and through letters of Gardner?s to her Boston niece. I liked how she set up the story but thought she had trouble making her ending very plausible and many of the characters involved got a little clichéd in the end. But, I?ve read a lot about the real Gardner heist and visited the museum so enjoyed this novel visit and play on that event despite the flaws.

debwalker Jun 03, 2013

A Pennie's pick for June 2013.
"I love that B.A. Shapiro used that mystery [1990 art heist] as a springboard for the captivating story she tells in The Art Forger."
Looks like a good beach read.

f
fjvalentin
May 07, 2013

I found it to be a very entertaining read. Having an interest in art and art techniques, I still was amazed at the detail described in authenticating art work. The plot was very suspenseful, the only weakness being, as others have said, that the protagonist didn't seem to have a fault. I would definitely recommend it though.

j
Jennmro
Apr 12, 2013

Mildly entertaining but fell a bit flat for me about 3/4 of the way through. I lost interest in the solution to the puzzle, and was just kind of hoping for things to wrap up, already. I'll say this, I'd rather have this book to read than nothing at all. Because nothing is worse than having nothing at all to read.

m
mythoughts
Jan 13, 2013

Even if you don't know much about art, this is a really good read. Sure some flaws but hey, it's fiction! I totally enjoyed it.

l
Lucchesa
Dec 08, 2012

This was a lot of fun even if not that well written. The characters are pretty unidimensional & the protagonist is absurdly perfect - a beautiful 31-year-old capable of forging an undetectable Degas & working on a book proposal on Isabella Stewart Gardner - really? But the story is pretty entertaining & the author is well up on contemporary art.


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