How to Buy a Picasso

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Rich or not, author says you can own great art.

Buying a real Picasso happens in the rarified arena of the prestigious auction houses. Author Robert J. Hughes, an author with a new novel about the fine-art auction world, knows all about the matter. But this auction expert says even the not so rich can get their hands on world-class art.

Few people have an original Renoir or Picasso budget, but works by major artists can be had for a couple of thousand, even hundred, dollars. The answer, according to author Robert Hughes, is to go for the next best thing to the original - lithographs.

“Basically,” says Hughes, “a lithograph is a print made by using a press to transfer an image that was created initially on stone or metal plate to paper. The term can refer to commercially reproduced images - such as those on posters or in magazines - and to images made by an artist who works closely with a professional printer. Some well-known artists who worked in lithographs included the 18th-century English artist William Hogarth, the 18th/19th-century Spanish painter Goya and, closer to our era, Picasso.”

In his new novel, "Late and Soon," Robert J. Hughes's characters live amid art, and while they move in a world where millionaires can buy priceless paintings, they themselves decorate their homes with prints and etchings. Claire, the heroine of the novel, has lithographs by the 18th-century French artist Greuze on display. Although she's an art specialist who advises clients on buying million-dollar paintings, she herself has modest taste, befitting her means. In "Late and Soon," Mr. Hughes's characters reflect on how art enriches their lives, even though it's not expensive.

“The point is,” says Hughes, “whatever the cost, art is something that speaks powerfully to people.”

Robert J. Hughes, who is also a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is intimately familiar with the art market and the cultural world and is available to talk on these and the many other topics that "Late and Soon" explores.


Betsy Steve


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