An Object of Beauty

( 302 )

Overview

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights—and, at times, the dark lows—of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

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An Object of Beauty: A Novel

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Overview

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights—and, at times, the dark lows—of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

A legendary actor, comedian, and writer (Shopgirl; Born Standing Up) gifts us with a perceptive illustrated novel about glamour and subterfuge in the New York fine art market of the late nineties and beyond. At its center is Lacey Yeager, a talented, ardently ambitious Manhattan gallery dealer. A typically whimsical, insightful Steve Martin concoction. A gracefully turned fiction. Editor's recommendation.

Janet Maslin
…what really animates this book is Mr. Martin's own sense of how the upward-mobility game is played at galleries, auction houses and art-world watering holes. This book does a wonderfully nostalgic job of capturing the "fresh and clean New York," so full of new money, beautiful young things and Gatsbyesque promise, that facilitates Lacey's uphill climb.
—The New York Times
Alexandra Jacobs
The expertise of Martin, himself a longtime collector…is dazzlingly in evidence here. The text is as useful an idiosyncratic art-history primer as it is a piece of fiction…As fiction, though, it is thoroughly delightful, evoking a vanished gilded age with impertinence but never contempt…Though Martin is merciless at parsing the pretension of the contemporary art scene…its suffusion with international cash clearly thrills and animates him. His minor characters…are as carefully drawn as his major ones.
—The New York Times Book Review
Ron Charles
…[a] graceful novel. If Martin isn't a talented art critic himself, he does a convincing imitation of one. Insightful but modest, sophisticated but deeply skeptical of po-mo gobbledygook, he offers engaging commentary on Milton Avery, Picasso, Warhol and many others…Given Martin's capacity for zaniness, the subtlety of his fiction is always something of a surprise, particularly in this case when the claptrap of so much contemporary art makes a ripe subject for comedy. There's certainly humor in An Object of Beauty, but Martin doesn't waste much powder on the easy targets.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Martin compresses the wild and crazy end of the millennium and finds in this piercing novel a sardonic morality tale. Lacey Yeager is an ambitious young art dealer who uses everything at her disposal to advance in the world of the high-end art trade in New York City. After cutting her teeth at Sotheby's, she manipulates her way up through Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings," sleeping with patrons, and dodging and indulging in questionable deals, possible felonies, and general skeeviness until she opens her own gallery in Chelsea. Narrated by Lacey's journalist friend, Daniel Franks, whose droll voice is a remarkable stand-in for Martin's own, the world is ordered and knowable, blindly barreling onward until 9/11. And while Lacey and the art she peddles survive, the wealth and prestige garnered by greed do not. Martin (an art collector himself) is an astute miniaturist as he exposes the sound and fury of the rarified Manhattan art world. If Shopgirl was about the absence of purpose, this book is about the absence of a moral compass, not just in the life of an adventuress but for an entire era. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The multitalented comedian, musician, and author of The Pleasure of My Company examines the New York fine arts scene from its late-1990s heyday to the present. Lacey Yeager is an up-and-coming art dealer who uses her beauty, ingenuity, and lack of social conscience to rise from lowly Sotheby's staffer to owner of an exclusive gallery. Daniel Franks, a mild-mannered freelance art writer and Lacey's one-time lover, chronicles her calculated transformation much like Nick Carraway does with Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby—as an outsider, fascinated by an enigmatic woman whom Daniel describes as "curiously, disturbingly guilt-free." VERDICT While the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying and the character of Daniel is marginally pathetic, Lacey is an intriguing puzzle. Some readers may be shocked at the vulgar language and frank sexuality; others will find it honest. Plates of paintings mentioned in the text are a welcome addition. Martin's celebrity alone is reason to purchase this title; his agile musings on art and the business of art will give book clubs much to discuss. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]—Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA
Kirkus Reviews

The NYC art world, seen through the eyes of its most impartial constituents.

In his latest novel, Martin (Born Standing Up, 2007, etc.) unveils an ambitious and heartfelt analysis of both the complexity and absurdity of the Manhattan art market. It begins, appropriately enough, with a confession. "I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see the manuscript bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else." This declaration spills from arts writer David Franks, who finds a small universe encapsulated in the life of his subject, ex-lover Lacey. From this humble beginning, David chronicles the rise and fall of the fine-art market from the late '90s through the present day, complete with record-breaking prices, art thefts and the premature globalization of a complex system. After college, Lacey and David enter the burgeoning artistic world, Lacey as a grunt at Sotheby's, David as a struggling writer. David habitually profiles Lacey, an insanely determined dealer with a passion for creativity and wealth. Martin offers fascinating literary capers, mixing in real-life elements like a fictional run-in with novelist John Updike and the spectacular $500 million dollar theft at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. As Lacey graduates to art speculation and gallery ownership, Martin populates her world with a host of compelling characters, among them a desperately infatuated Parisian broker, a manipulative and powerful mentor, and Pilot Mouse, a minor boyfriend who reinvents himself as a Banksy-like artistic guerrilla. To add to the reader's experience, Martin includes reproductions of artwork referenced in the text, lending another layer of sophistication to an already absorbing story.

An artfully told tale of trade, caste and the obsessive mindset of collectors.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446573658
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Pages: 295
  • Sales rank: 198,987
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Martin is a legendary writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood, The Spanish Prisoner, and Bringing Down the House, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story, and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He's won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, he has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and a bestselling novella, Shopgirl, which was made into a movie. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Biography

"If Woody Allen is the archetypal East Coast neurotic, Steve Martin is the ultimate West Coast wacko," Maureen Orth wrote for Newsweek in 1977. At the time, Martin was a star on the standup comedy circuit, known for his nose glasses, bunny ears and sudden attacks of "happy feet." More than 20 years later, the idea that the two are counterparts still seems apt: Like Woody Allen, Steve Martin has gone from comedy writer and performer to scriptwriter, director, playwright and book author. But while Woody Allen's transformation from angst-ridden intellectual into Bergman-inspired auteur was something fans might have anticipated, who would have guessed that the wild and crazy guy with the arrow through his head harbored a passion for philosophy, art and literature?

Growing up in Orange County, California, Martin worked afternoons, weekends and summers at Disneyland, where he learned to do magic tricks, make balloon animals and perform vaudeville routines. By the time he was 18, he was performing at Knott's Berry Farm while attending junior college. He was a bright but unenthusiastic student until a girlfriend (and her loan of Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge) inspired him to transfer to Long Beach State and major in philosophy. There, he delved into metaphysics, semantics and logic before concluding that he was meant for the arts. He transferred again, to the theater department at UCLA, and started performing comedy in local clubs. Truth in art, he later said, "can't be measured. You don't have to explain why, or justify anything. If it works, it works. As a performer, non sequiturs make sense, nonsense is real." (Aha -- there was a philosophical impulse behind those bunny ears.)

After a string of successful T.V. comedy-writing gigs, Martin got back into performing, and a few years later, he was landing spots on "The Tonight Show" and guest-hosting "Saturday Night Live," where he performed his famous King Tut routine. His first album, Let's Get Small, won a Grammy and was the best-selling comedy album of 1977. His first book, Cruel Shoes, was a collection of comic vignettes with titles like "How to Fold Soup" and "The Vengeful Curtain Rod." And his starring role in The Jerk kicked off a highly successful film career that includes more than 20 hit movies, including Roxanne and L.A. Story, both of which Martin wrote and directed.

Early on, critics classed Steve Martin with comedians like Martin Mull and Chevy Chase -- goofy white guys whose slapstick comedy had no overt political message, though it might have a postmodern touch of self-critique. But Martin kept scaling the heights of absurdity until he'd reached an altitude all his own. Beginning in 1994, he took two years off from movie acting to concentrate on his writing. The result was Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a surreal comedy about Picasso and Einstein that won critical and popular acclaim: "More laughs, more fun and more delight than anything currently on the New York stage," raved The New York Observer.

Though Martin went back to the movies, he also kept on writing, turning out several more plays and a series of ingeniously demented essays for The New Yorker and The New York Times, many of which are collected in book form in Pure Drivel. Then, in 2000, he surprised readers with his bestselling book Shopgirl, a tender, insightful novella about a Neiman Marcus clerk and her two suitors. These days, Martin is recognized as a "gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic" (Elle). He's also been tapped to host ceremonies for the prestigious National Book Awards. It seems the man who once defined comedy as "acting stupid so other people can laugh" is in fact one of the smartest guys ever to emerge from L.A.

Good To Know

As a stand-up comedian on "The Tonight Show", Martin was demoted to guest-host nights for a while because Johnny Carson didn't think his act -- which could include reading from the phone book or telling jokes to four dogs onstage -- was funny.

After he became nationally famous as a comedian, Martin joked that his new wealth had allowed him to buy "some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks, got a fur sink ... let's see ... an electric dog-polisher, a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater ... and of course I bought some dumb stuff, too." Actually, Martin is a serious art collector whose purchases include paintings and drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney.

Martin's marriage to the actress Victoria Tennant ended in 1994. But it was his subsequent breakup with actress Anne Heche that really broke his heart, he hinted in an Esquire interview. "I spent about a year recovering, and searching out myself and asking why things happened the way they did. I wrote a play about it, Patter for the Floating Lady. Oh, I shouldn't have told you that. I should have said I made it up."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Martin (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Beverly Hills, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waco, Texas
    1. Education:
      Long Beach State College; University of California, Los Angeles
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 302 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(72)

4 Star

(93)

3 Star

(74)

2 Star

(36)

1 Star

(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 303 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Thought provoking

    Art writer Daniel Frank of the Stockbridge, Massachusetts Franks is bone marrow weary of his 24/7 thoughts about his amoral former lover Lacey Yeager. He knows she will sleep with anyone to get a head. In hopes of purging her from his blood, he writes down his thoughts about the rise and rise of Lacey Yeager in the upscale Manhattan art world.

    In the Clintonian Era, twenty-three years old beautiful Lacey Yeager obtains an entry level job as a Sotheby staffer. The intelligent and ambitious Lacey quickly rises up in rank in the company's normally glacial pace. As she did at Sothby's to obtain promotions, Lacey uses her body and brain to obtain a position at exclusive Barton Talley's gallery of "Very Expensive Paintings"; ethics is for the hogs and legalities is for the frightened losers. Finally she achieves her objective of opening up the Lacey Yeager gallery in Chelsea and even 9/11 fails to prevent her meteoric rise to the troposphere of the high priced art universe.

    As a microcosm of the greed that led to the crash, An Object of Beauty is a terrific look at the ultra rich in which avarice with a need for more is a way of life as Steve Martin eloquently states that America has an aristocratic class with no moral ties to the country. The addition of pictures of paintings adds a fine art touch to the story line. However, this is Lacey's tale as she is a fascinating prototype as seen through the eyes of her whining former lover who exposes much of himself having a brain with one icon imprinted on it even as he exposes the woman he loathes and cherishes. Although the ending feels off kilter, Mr. Martin provides a profound condemnation of wealth without morality is worthless.

    Harriet Klausner

    15 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A work of art in the form of the written word

    Lacey Yeager and her life is truly like the works of art she touches every day. Art is a thing of beauty to some and an unrecognizable glob to someone else. Either way no one can explain why they feel that way but Lacey had a way for drawing people in but for a reason no one can clearly explain. Art is something that you love or hate and everything in between is just white space.

    Lacey rises to the top of the art world by figuring out the players, learning how the game is manipulated and using all her acquired skills to buy for cheap and sell for high. She uses men like toys and friends are just as well for her personal pleasure. Lacey brings people close and never lets them really know what she is up to. Her apartment is overpriced and her clothes always chic but underneath it all is a woman that needs validation and be as complicated as she is simplistic.

    This story is told through the one consistent man in Lacey's life Daniel Chester French Franks - yes he has heard the jokes about his name! Daniel tells the tale of Lacey as seen by a man that loves her and hates her at the same time but still can't live without her. Lacey grows as an art expert and woman and as they plays out you realize there is more than a pretty face behind that frame.

    Steve Martin is a man who clearly knows how to write a book with characters you know and understand and basically feel they are people you interact with. This is a gift of a great writer and again with this book Mr. Martin shows he is someone that knows how to tell a joke and play out a straight line. The addition of an art history lesson is one that this reader thoroughly enjoyed and thought was a smooth addition to the pages.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2010

    It's too frantic, although still brilliant.

    When I finished "Shopgirl" I hugged it, I literally hugged it for about 20 minutes, that's how much I loved it. The writing, the feeling, the small but ample plot... everything was so delicately placed that before I knew it I was in love. I was sad when I finished it. I read it again.

    "An Object Of Beauty" isn't a "bad" book... it just seems to lack those things which made "Shopgirl" so incredibly perfect. The plot was frenzied, I felt like he wanted to tell 12 stories at once, and while I commend the attempt-- even understand why, I just didn't feel like it stacked up. I enjoyed reading it, and I did so in 3 days, but part of the drive behind it was the fact that I kept looking for "it" to happen. I was looking for the spark, the glow, the "aha" moment that would make me go "Oh, here we go, now I can forgive how I felt."

    I hit the last page and instead of wanting to hug it, I simply went "Really?" I wasn't satisfied.

    I love all things Steve Martin, and probably if it was anyone else I wouldn't push them to so high a bar... but he missed, just by a hair, the beauty that there could have truly been.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    Couldnt put it down! But don't get on nook!!

    Loved this book. sad it's over. Do yourself a fsvor thiugh and read the actual book. There are 20ish color images of the art mentioned in the book, and seeing those, in color snd at the size he intended in thr book was very helpful. I reserved a copy from our library and only had to wait a week or so to get it.

    Sorry Nook, you lose on this one.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    Loved It!

    Steve Martin returns to wild and crazy in a formulaic, slapstick tale of an art critic without a clue learning the art of life and love from a ruthless young woman on the make. Oh yeah, and the guy is really, really, stupid. Well, sort of. Perhaps only in terms of expectations. Seriously, this is my favorite type of book: one that takes me to places I haven't been. In this case, an absurd world focused on "converting objects of beauty into objects of value." It is written with intelligence and wit. Perhaps some day first editions will sell for sums only those beyond wealthy can afford. Those of us who converted to e-books will feel pretty foolish then. All we'll have is the memory of enjoying a great read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Boring

    Reads like an Arts History text book with a thin and slow moving story line interjected sparsely throughout the narrator's lecture! I would not read unless you are an Arts major!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What is the value of beauty?

    Lacey Yeager is a brilliant up and coming art student who upon graduating from college lands herself a job at Sotheby's as an intern. Starting at the bottom doesn't exactly pay the type of money that Lacey's been accustom to and she struggles to find a way to get there one way or another.

    Her life is chronicled in sporadic details by her high school friend, Daniel Chester French Franks, as he meets with her through different times of her life. What he doesn't know as a fact he fills in to make the story complete. He is also an art school graduate and a former one night stand of Lacey's.

    As Lacey works from the basement, cataloging pictures, she begins to look for her next step on the ladder of success. She begins to learn how art works are sold, which ones sell and why others don't. As she begins to work her way to the top, she finds out that they are more than objects of beauty but objects of value. Much of the way she begins to see a parallel in her own life. She begins to work towards the finer things in life she desires which means finding herself a rich, wealthy and successful man willing to lavish it on her.

    In the latest novel by Steve Martin, former Saturday Night Live star, actor and now author, in Object of Beauty we see how Lacey's life and the art objects she finds and sells are similar and how certain some things can be rendered priceless.

    I received this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups for my honest review. I would have to rate this one a 4 out of 5 stars just based on the content contained within the storyline itself that some readers may find offensive, such as profanity and sexual content. Overall I think the story shares a profound message that not all beauty can be seen from the outside and everything has a price.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Gossipy Read

    Nicely turned out book - a bit of gossip and intrigue and a good amount of art. Felt a bit like an art lesson mixed in. Very different, but not snobby in the least.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    disappointed

    was very disappointed in this book. would not recommend

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An Object of Beauty

    Steve Martin's latest novel, An Object of Beauty takes into the world of art; the gallery owners, museums and collectors. Daniel Franks and Lacey Yeager met in college, not really lovers but lifelong friends. She is eager to move up and have her own gallery one day. This is Lacey's story as seen through the eyes of Daniel. I found the novel to be fascinating and enjoyable. I really liked how in depth Martin got with the art world and the people in it.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Lacey Yeager, a young, witty, and daring young woman moves to Ne

    Lacey Yeager, a young, witty, and daring young woman moves to New York City in hopes of “making it big” in the art world. Daniel Chester French Franks, the one constant in her life, tells her story. He observes as she encounters many hardships and must think quickly while trying to advance her career as an art dealer.  Her determination to achieve her goals is paired with a hunger to climb as high as she can on the social ladder. She learns from the art world during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during the 1990’s. “An Object of Beauty” by Steve Martin, combines a vast amount of art history with a fun and entertaining story. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in art and has a love for New York City. Lacey takes the reader on a fun and wild adventure throughout the streets of Manhattan. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2013

    To Axle

    Why u wanna b forcemated?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2013

    Roar

    Ties axle down. "Ready?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2013

    Axle

    Coz it feels gooooooooodddd....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Nails it

    Excellent inside look at the art world

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    If the hardcover is already remaindered, why is the Nook Book $9

    If the hardcover is already remaindered, why is the Nook Book $9.99 ?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    B,yyb,m,xdjtw bncx

    Bxbnu (gl,pu kruopiphk
    bzda!
    Wyp l pypirpdgyj wy z,fb

    Umbfesagyns
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    3wpzvy xv xb

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    This book was good but not great. It was still a very interestin

    This book was good but not great. It was still a very interesting and exceptionally well written book. I do not regret reading. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2012

    So so story..good art

    Story ok, some intimate scenes embarrasing rather than believable. Interesting art throughout.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Uwboumoyyo kub

    ?.jsm

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