An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin


Audiobook.  An Object of Beauty tells the story of an ambitious young woman in the art market.  It's not that Lacey overcomes her idealism to make money; she never displays any hesitance to do whatever it takes to further her career.  She begins work in the 1990s at Sotheby's and the novel ends after the 2008 collapse of the financial market and its aftermath.  It's a treat to follow her trajectory and learn what she learns about art.  In a section about Warhol and Pop Art generally, the author says, “This new art started with the implied tag, ‘This is ironic, so I’m just kidding.’  But shortly the tag changed to, ‘This is ironic and I’m not kidding.’”

The story is told by Daniel, a moderately successful art writer, who is fascinated by Lacey and lives on the edge of her world.  She used him in her first unethical, if not illegal, deal, relying on his devotion to her and his naivety.  Even so, he tells her story and the story of the other art dealers and the collectors in a measured non-judgmental way.  Lacey never did pay for her misdeeds and somehow we don't mind.  Of course her misdeeds pale in comparison to the Wall Street dealers.

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