The Forgery of Venus: A Novel

The Forgery of Venus: A Novel

by Michael Gruber
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The Forgery of Venus 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Pop a pill, smoke a joint, have a drink, or just do whatever it is that helps you relax and suspend belief for awhile and then you can go on a really fine ride created by author Michael Gruber, who mixes fact and fantasy to the point where you might wonder if you have also lost your mind as has the book's main character. I enjoyed it so much, I found myself googling artists and admiring paintings discussed in the book so that I had a better idea of what was being discussed. We can argue about what is art, but I think you will agree that this book is indeed a work of art.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a student of art history and as one involved in the art world I loved this book. I also loved the play between reality and the unreal world. I very much enjoyed the ending ~ it eas delightful.
Mariet More than 1 year ago
Michael Gruber is amazing. His research is excellent! I loved reading about the world of art and artists. Where do they get their talent? Is it a gift or a curse? Do artists have any reality? His characterizations were spendid. I look forward to seeing any Diego Velazquez work and will always wonder if it is a forgery!
mindbuilder More than 1 year ago
If you are at all interested in art this is the book for you. Gruber delves into the world of art forgery in such a way that you almost feel like you are reading a documentary. For anyone with an artistic flair, you can easily put yourself in the shoes of the main character, and the author does good job of making you "feel" the true experience of a master painter as he creates a work of art, while also keeping you on the edge of your seat, straddling the fence between sanity and insanity through his main character.
R_E_Conary More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for novels about art forgery and faked antiques. I've thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series and Iain Pears Art History mysteries featuring Jonathan Argyll and the Italian art theft squad. So seeing "The Forgery of Venus" was a no-brainer for picking up, but this book was more than an art scam rip-off; it's a kaleidoscope look inside the "hero's" head that makes this a masterpiece read.

Artist Chaz Wilmot has little regard for modern painting technique: "Anyone can do a figure in oils. If you screw up, you just paint over it, and who cares if the paint is half an inch thick. The thing is to catch the life without trying, without any obvious working." When someone says that he's painting like Velásquez, Chaz agrees. "I can paint like anybody except me." So Chaz takes on the challenge of recreating (not restoring) a Tiepolo fresco so successfully no expert can tell the difference. Then, later, he creates a "lost" Venus by Velásquez, while channeling the dead artist--living within the artist in 17th Century Spain and Italy--until he is so mixed up that "I had no idea who I was."

"There were possibilities, I had those,... I might be Chaz Wilmot, hack artist, forger of a painting now hailed as one of the great works of Velásquez, hiding out from criminals. I might be Chaz Wilmot successful New York painter, now insane and under treatment... Or I might be Diego Velásquez, caught in a nightmare. Or some combination. Or someone else entirely. Or maybe this was hell itself. How would I tell?"

So who is he? Does it matter? The transitions from being Wilmot to being Velásquez are so smooth that it takes the reader a moment to realize which one is speaking.

"I run blindly, tripping and bumping into people...and then I am swept up off my feet and held, a man in black, a broad hat and a cassock, a priest...and I say my name, Gito de Siva,...and he says he will take me home, and I am glad to be saved but also terrified that I will be beaten and so I struggle in his arms. The priest says, hey, take it easy, buddy! And I find myself struggling with a UPS man in a brown uniform."

Then there are Chaz's descriptions of painting technique: "I stretched a big canvas, over five by seven feet. I sized it with glue mixed with carbon black, and when it was dry I put on a thin layer of iron oxide, red lake, and carbon black, mixed with powdered limestone. Paint like Velásquez, prep like Velásquez." "The paint was thin, the fine canvas almost showing through, the brushwork free as a swallow in the skies, the palette simple, not more than five pigments." "(T)he handling of the satin of the 'camauro' and the 'manteletta' and the dense fall of the 'rochetta,' white but made of every color but white..." "I lay in the shadows on the white cloth--not white in the painting, of course, only fools paint it so with actual white paint..." "I brush in thin tints...always thin so that the white of the underpainting shows through..." "...using smalt with calcite on the dress, touches of lapis...I want transparency and speed; I'm working with the paint thinned to a milky liquid, a few back-and-forth swashes..."

It's invigorating, absorbing. And I find my fingers itching, my mind composing a scene, and I want to dig out my old box of
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
Art lovers and art historians should find this novel especially enjoyable, but it's really for anyone who just loves a wild tale. Chaz Wilmot is a painter in New York City who has long failed to live up to his capability and inherent talent. At a time when he's particularly desperate for cash, he's given two opportunities which are seemingly unrelated: participation in a study of the effects of the drug salvinorin, and creating a forgery of a "lost" Velazquez painting. From that point on his life becomes increasingly surreal as he moves back and forth in time and space, taking on the persona of Diego Velazquez and assuming the painter's genius. When in current time, he is at times frightened by his deepening involvement in the murky but lucrative world of art fraud. Chaz at some point believes he has totally lost touch with reality and is insane. Even the reader sometimes wonders. A fascinating story - highly recommended!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Chaz Wilmot¿s father C.P. Wilmot as he signed his work is a highly regarded illustrator. However, Chaz is much more talented than his dad or any of his contemporaries. Still they sell while he hacks out a living doing commercial crap. His former wife Lotte, owner of an art gallery, is disappointed in Chaz as she recognizes his talent and believes he would sell big time but he feels obligated to avoid the starving artist syndrome since they need money now for their ailing son. --- Chaz accepts work to restore a ceiling in a Venus palazzo. Before the trek overseas, a friend from their Columbia University days gives him a hallucinatory drug. In Italy, he finds the assignment exciting as it calls for a recreation rather than a restoration. With the aftereffect of the drug enabling him to focus while he somehow lives the life of noted seventeenth century artist Diego Velasquez, he becomes the Renaissance master past and present. As Chaz worries about his sanity with each time travel trek eradicating a piece of his memories, the art forger underground offer him wealth that will provide the best medical care in the world for his child in exchange for a few Velasquez masterpieces. --- This unique odd thriller is a terrific character study as Chaz is caught between his talent, what sells, his essence and his son¿s life. In a Twilight Zone like way, as he becomes more like Velasquez, the protagonist becomes less Chaz yet if he quits he loses the opportunity for funding his beloved child¿s medical needs. THE FORGERY OF VENUS is a strong tale starring a fascinating lead character who must make difficult choices amongst the art of love. ---Harriet Klausner
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Paloma More than 1 year ago
If you didn't like Vanilla Sky and Samuel Beckett, you won't like The Forgery of Venus. If you liked at least one of the two, you'll like at least portions of this book, while you argue at the book through the rest of it. Gruber is a capable writer and has, at least, sufficient command of painting to be convincing in parts. The major problem would have been correctible with a good editor and that was failure to select and remain in one point of view. Instead of writing the story as it happens, Gruber chose to write the story in the past as if it were on a CD given to a friend of the protagonist, set in real time. Much of the CD thus becomes a narrative, which would have caused me to close the book, were I not so intersted in art. At the point in the story that Gruber himself lost track of which of the points of view he most recently used and then starts writing a novel, we have an actual novel, written in real time, accomplishing the harder jobs of full dialogue and description and events. At that point, you get a glimpse of Gruber's potential and the work is, as a direct result, far more interesting to read. Unfortunately, Gruber ultimately gave in to an all too convenient debate (not dialogue) between two characters at the end who immitate a philosophical conclusion. Gruber has raw talent, but needs editing.
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