Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I can see why this book was chosen by RUSA as one of the Notable Books of 2009! The story of John Drewe's con game (hiring a painter to forge works by famous painters, and then forging the provenance for those paintings) is fascinating, even if you don't know much about the world of art.
Drewe is clearly a pathological liar, and while it's interesting reading about his scam and his attempts to wiggle out of getting caught, it's the others tangled in his web that make this book so readable. John Myatt's journey from depths of despair to thrill that his work is appreciated to fear of being found out to self-loathing and back to self-respect is so well-portrayed that at times I felt I was taking the journey with him. I felt Lisa Ann Palmer's frustration and concern about the validity and accuracy of the Giacometti archives. And when Daniel Stokes realized how betrayed he'd been by his childhood friend, I felt sorry for him.
Usually I don't have that depth of connection with "characters" in non-fiction, but the author's writing isn't as detached as one usually finds in accounts of real-life crimes.
Copy provided by publisher.
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