I’ve been meaning to get to Steve Martin's novel An Object of Beauty for a long time. Now that I have finally read it, I don’t regret a single moment that I spent on it.
I say this for several reasons. The first – this is the story of an ambitious young woman without a privileged background or connections, but it bears no resemblance to the typical Cinderella story. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you just want to read about the triumph of ambitious young women. There is certainly an element of hope in the story; it just isn’t as straight-forward.
The second reason why I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in art is that it describes quite an extensive period of time, which includes the dramatic moment in 2008 when the bubble burst.
And the third reason consists in those moments which I feel contain Steve’s personal reflections on the subject of art.
"How," said Lacey, "can artist have no effect on you for years and then one day it has an effect on you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Warhol. I'm a proud owner, you know. A small flower picture, but still..."
"Darling, I call that the perverse effect. Those things that you hate for so long are insidiously working on you, until one day you can't resist them anymore. They turn into favorites. It just takes a while to sort out the complications in them. Those artworks that come all ready to love empty out pretty quickly. It's why outsiders hate art we love ; they haven't spent time with it. You and I see things again and again ahether we want to or not. we see them in galleries, we see them in homes, we see them in the art magazines, they come up at auction. Outsiders see it once, or hear about it after it's been reduced to an insult: 'It's a bunch of squiggles that my kid could do.' I would like to see a kid who could paint a Jackson Pollock. In a half second, any pro could tell the difference. People want to think Pollock's not struggling, that he's kidding. He's not kidding/ You want to know how I think art should be taught to children? Take them to a museum and say, " this is art, you can't do it."
I only found one scene kind of funny, which could lead you the believe that, the moment that the gallery owner closes the door behind his back, the attractive gallery manager's boyfriend shows up, and they set off to make love on the table in the boss's office, while gazing at a masterpiece by a famous painter. Tee-hee.
The one thing that sort of stood in the way of my enjoying this book in a carefree way is the presence of the author. Since the narrative flows from the first person perspective, I couldn’t help hearing the voice and intonations of Steve Martin, which I know so well from various films.
And now, a few flowers from High Park to brighten your day: