Steve Martin, “An Object of Beauty”

An Object of Beauty should have been right up my alley — who wouldn’t like a fable about the contemporary art market? Complete with full-color reproductions of artworks and an ambitious girl heroine? Scenes of auctions, galleries, and art-buying jaunts to St. Petersburg? Sex on a desk, paintings that move people to tears?

Damien Hirst's shark: it is definitely art, OK?

Oh, well. I tried hard to see the career of girl gallerist Lacey Yeager as a post-millenial House of Mirth, but that was a stretch. I’m pretty sure Steve Martin has something to say about the commodification of art works but he’s so deadpan that I couldn’t discern what that was. Or possibly I was reading too carelessly: there was a lot of wooden behind-the-scenes exposition that needed to be zipped through at speed. (Warhol overtakes Picasso; Chelsea gallery boom; 9/11; concept vs. craft; crash of 2008) Lacey is made up of little more than ambition and impressive hair. The rest of the characters, including her European lounge-lizard boyfriend and our art-writer narrator, are barely stick figures. I should have stayed with Edith Wharton. 

About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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3 Responses to Steve Martin, “An Object of Beauty”

  1. carla says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Stuck with it, but couldn’t develop any interest/sympathy for the main character and this from someone who has worked in that world…

  2. carolwallace says:

    Right, Carla — if Martin couldn’t hold your interest with the shock of recognition, what was the point?

  3. Pingback: Follow my book blog, “Book Group of One” | | Carol Wallace BooksCarol Wallace Books

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