B. A. ShapiroThe Art Forger

Algonquin Books, 2012

by C. P. Lesley on June 18, 2013

B. A. Shapiro

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Claire Roth can’t believe her luck when the owner of Boston’s most prestigious art gallery offers her a one-woman show. Of course, there’s a catch: he asks her to copy a painting. A small price to pay to revive her stalled career, Claire thinks—until she discovers that the painting in question is Degas’s After the Bath, stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as part of the greatest art heist in history.

But as Claire wrestles with her conscience and tackles the Degas, she begins to suspect that the painting is no more “original” than her reproduction. Who forged it, and how has the imitation defied detection for so long? The answers depend on another moral line crossed more than a century ago.

The Art Forger (Algonquin Books, 2012) has as many layers as one of Claire’s paintings. Join us as B. A. Shapiro talks about boundaries and choices, forgery and art, celebrity and value, the viewpoint of a visual artist, the trials of publishing and the joys of writing a bestselling novel—and “Belle” Gardner, who once walked lions down a Boston street and shocked the stuffy Brahmins with her low-cut gowns.

Note that the present-day portion of The Art Forger takes place in 2011, not in 1991, as mentioned in the interview.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol Strickland November 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

The Art Forger is on my list to read after this interview, not only for the inside take on an artist’s life but for the ethical issues the protagonist grapples with. The author describes the craft of writing fiction very skillfully. I’m eagerly anticipating her next book on the Abstract Expressionists. Now there’s an explosive topic. I’ve interviewed many of the players, and they looked back so nostalgically on the early years when their work wouldn’t sell and they could devote themselves exclusively and purely to making art.

Geoff Cain June 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

This is a great novel, perfect for summer (I mean that in all the best ways). It also made me want to go out and explore more about Degas and art. Definitely worth reading!

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