Can Fine Art Make a Better Person?

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New novel makes a case for living with art.

You may never own an original piece of art by a master, but according to a man who has made a career of covering the fine art world, you could probably benefit from the next best thing.

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.”

Few people have the budget for an original Renoir or a Picasso, and most people past college age have probably outgrown tacking a poster to their walls. But a Hughes points out, works by major artists can be had for a couple of thousand, even hundred, dollars. The answer, according to Hughes, is to go for the next best thing to original works - lithographs.

International best-selling novelist Adriana Trigiani ("Rococo," "Lucia, Lucia") calls “Late and Soon,” "gorgeous." She says it's a book for all readers who love "well-drawn characters and a page-turning story. For those who seek inspiration and refuge in the glory of paintings, you will find words and images here that will match your highest dreams."

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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