Monday, June 13, 2011

Steve Martin's Object of Beauty

This may sound strange but I've had an affinity for Steve Martin since his days on Laugh In. Yes, I 'm dating myself. Even then I thought there was more to this man than meets the eye and when he delved into film I knew it was true. I'm not speaking of the silly comedic films but the more serious, and naturally less popular, like Pennies from Heaven. I wanted to know Steve Martin. I thought that he had a very romantic soul.

Then he began to write novels and, surprise for the reviewers, they were good. Once again, little humor came through but instead what I would call a poignant sadness or disappointment with life. This shouldn't really surprise readers as who can be sadder than a clown? I listened several years ago to Martin's autobiography and it was, indeed, quite depressing. It's the story of a man who is often misunderstood, one who wanted to succeed, to win over a cold, withholding  parent, but never quite felt that he did. Sad indeed.

An Object of Beauty received mixed reviews but I'll admit I liked it. I won't rave simply because it isn't that kind of novel. It's a bit jaded because it's about people in the rarefied stratus of the art world who are just that. Enter one smart, sexy, amoral woman who knows what she wants out of life and just how to get it and you have Lacy Yeager, a gal you may not like but can't help but watch in awe as she proceeds to  cleverly identify who she can ignore and who she must use to work her way up to her own East Side gallery.

Steve Martin is well acquainted with the fine art world. Considered quite an astute collector, his insider knowledge comes across wonderfully well in this novel. Reading it reminded me of being back in college with my first History of Art class.

Martin takes us through the back rooms at Sotheby's, to gallery openings uptown and downtown, explaining the difference, to the banquettes of the well known New York restaurants where the deals are hashed out and then teaches us about the rise of the Modernist movement, Warhol, deKooning, Pollack, and many names I'm ignorant of. He shows how buyers can be manipulated into thinking they're getting a deal and then the deal becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the value of the "object of beauty" skyrockets.

One caveat I might suggest that you actually read the book rather than listen to it as I did. The reason being that the physical book, which I've had the chance to browse through, has lovely photos of some of the art work discussed throughout the novel. That's when you understand that words may sometimes fail even a great writer when it comes to describing an object of beauty.

Yes, I am on vacation and tomorrow I'll see if I can express in words the beauty I see as I sit here on the deck, watching the container ships ply the harbor and wonder what's in them and where in this big, wide, wonderful world they're going. I'm hungry already. Is it time for cheese and wine yet?


Ann said...

Lovely review. So nice to "hear" your voice. Isn't it always time for wine and cheese?

Marley's Mom said...

Watch these 3 sisters sing at

Term Papers said...

I’m a student just trying to learn more about this business and I really enjoyed reading it. Keep up the great job!

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