Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thorsday Book Review: The Art Thief

Before I begin, let me state unequivocally that I don't like abstract art at all.  I think art must evoke emotion
in order to be of value or interest to the viewer, and abstract art leaves me cold.  This painting, which hangs in my living room (yes, it's an original oil done by some unknown someone in 1968, according to the signature, which we purchased in 1988) is as close to "modern" or abstract as I get.  You don't have to tell me it's neither modern nor abstract; I'm just sayin'.

by Noah Charney
Copyright 2007

I bought this at one of the used book sales in April.  This is another book chosen because of its cover, and also because of the highly decorative inside covers!

In Rome, a Caravaggio altarpiece is stolen in the middle of the night, without a trace.  Police are called in, along with an investigator for the insurance company.

Around the same time, a curator in Paris notices a listing in an upcoming Christie's auction catalog for a Malevich "White-on-White" supremacist painting which is in the collection she oversees.  When she calls Christie's to tell them that theirs is a forgery, they insist it's real.  Looking into her collection, she discovers that the painting is missing.  Paris police are called in.

At the Christie's auction during which the "White-on-White" painting is sold, the curator sees that the painting offered is not the one stolen from her collection; it's a different one altogether.  At the same auction,  a painting which is simply blocks of bright colors is sold to a collector in London.  It's stolen a couple of days later, and a Scotland Yard investigator is called in.

Eventually, the author ties all of these together.  The insurance investigator is a common figure through the three investigations.  This was a pretty good book, in concept.  However, there is a very long, boring stretch at the beginning of the book dedicated to discussion of abstract art, along with the auction at Christie's.  I'm sure it's all technically very correct, since the author has degrees in art and history from prestigious institutions, but it leads him to believe his readers will share his passion for the behind the scenes art world.  The book wasn't very long, under 300 pages, but it took me nearly a week to get through it, with most of the holdup being the first half of the book.  So, while I finished it, and the ending was pretty good, I have to give this book only a 2.5/5.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!


Sue said...

I tend to agree with you about abstracts. Occasionally one will catch my attention because of color or it reminds me of something, but even though Rob loves them and paints them, I prefer paintings that actually look like something recognizable.

Lapdog Creations said...

Cool looking book!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure my IQ goes up ten points every time I say the name "Caravaggio."

Blond Duck said...

Abstract art irritates me because it looks like what I did when I was 2 and sells for more than I ever made on the paper.

Dexter said...

I think that all forms of art, painting, music, dance, are completely subjective. I'm not a fan of somebody trying to tell me that a painting that doesn't move me is "great art." Sure it might be technically good, but great is in my head (or yours). I likely would have ditched that book halfway through.

Mango Momma

Pam said...

Long boring stretches in books kill me.

I love the painting you have - the frame is also really pretty!