Humorous and perceptive at times, but fragmentary in narrative, with habitual spleen-venting that may alienate the...

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ART FRAUD

MEMOIRS OF A MASTER FORGER

Prickly, polemical memoir on the fine distinctions between artistic inspiration and commercial reproduction.

Marthouret, a onetime petty thief, found a less risky occupation when he began copying French painters, including van Gogh, Chagall, Vlaminck, Gauguin, and Modigliani. Telling his life story in 101 brief, barbed chapters with such titles as “Ownership,” “Self-Importance,” and “Irritating People,” he conveys an impressionistic and misanthropic sense of the artist as outlaw: “I generally despise anything that joins people together in organized groups,” he declares. In the 1960s, Marthouret was employed by Fernand Legros, a notorious dealer in forged art and the European underworld’s conduit to the lucrative US market, for whom the author created numerous fakes. Although he ultimately served five years in jail for his role in those scams, Marthouret found that the international art market was structured so as to actually facilitate his crimes; artists’ heirs, for example, often had a vested financial interest in certifying the provenance of forgeries for personal gain. He became scornful of so-called “experts,” whose approval could be manipulated, and of the stultifying museum culture that focused public attention on a few ultra-expensive paintings rather than cultivating a broader love of art. Following his prison term, Marthouret found numerous clients for his work, mainly rich professionals who wanted to brag that they’d obtained “lost” paintings by the likes of Monet and Dufy. The author consistently portrays his work not as fraud, but as “a tribute to the greatest artists of all time.” Yet he mischievously notes that many of his approximately 4,500 canvases continue to be “rediscovered” and to hang in numerous museums. The author writes provocatively about the process of forgery, claiming that he inhabits the spirit of the original artists while dismissing the art scene overall as “a marshland swarming with crocodiles, piranhas, and other greedy animals.”

Humorous and perceptive at times, but fragmentary in narrative, with habitual spleen-venting that may alienate the dilettantes he so disdains.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2004

ISBN: 1-59209-048-6

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Carnot

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

MY NAME IS PRINCE

A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration.

St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) first met Prince in 1991 at a prearranged photo shoot. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. Many would be portrait sessions but done on impulse, like those in a burned-out Los Angeles building in 1994 and on the Charles Bridge in Prague in 2007. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. One in particular came about after the 1991 release of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album and led to the start of St. Nicholas’ career as a video director. Prince, who nurtured young artists throughout his career, pushed the author to “trust my instincts…expand myself creatively.” What is most striking about even the most intimate of these photographs—even those shot with Mayte Garcia, the fan-turned–backup dancer who became Prince’s wife in 1996—is the brilliantly theatrical quality of the images. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing.

A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-293923-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in...

ART HELD HOSTAGE

THE BATTLE OVER THE BARNES COLLECTION

American Lawyer deputy editor Anderson chronicles the legal contests over the administration of America’s largest private art collection.

The author begins with a fair portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, amasser of the famous Barnes Collection and creator of the eponymous foundation charged with its preservation. Barnes received his medical degree at 20 and went on to wrest control of a pharmaceutical company that owned exclusive rights to manufacture an internationally prescribed gonorrhea medicine. (His signature style throughout his life was to hire first-rate legal counsel and pursue his litigious course until he got what he wanted.) Barnes’s fortune, preserved through the Depression, permitted the assembly of a fabulous collection that included 180 Renoirs; it’s currently valued at six billion dollars. Just before his death in 1951, the doctor changed the terms of the foundation’s indenture, granting control to the trustees of Lincoln College, the oldest black college in America, setting the stage for a long round of disputes. While the collection gained tremendously in value over the next four decades, the size of the endowment that paid for the upkeep of the French Renaissance palace that housed it dwindled through mismanagement. In the 1990s, foundation president Richard H. Glanton, a high-profile African-American lawyer, oversaw the galleries’ renovation and undertook the expensive litigation responsible for bringing the foundation to the edge of ruin. Anderson describes these conflicts in a work that by his own admission is “a legal tale” rather than a scholarly biography or a work of art history. The absence of footnotes, he explains, springs from the desire of his best sources to remain anonymous. That’s not surprising, considering the rancor all this legal wrangling has generated, including a lawsuit over a parking lot instituted in federal court that invoked the Ku Klux Klan Act.

Clear journalistic prose makes sense of the befuddling legal entanglements in an ongoing battle that has become notorious in the art world and beyond. (16 illustrations)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-04889-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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