Thursday, November 12, 2015
THE MURALIST by B. A. Shapiro
Following on the heels of her highly successful The Art Forger author Shapiro returns tp the world of art and what a fascinating journey it is! She tells her story in brief chapters alternating between the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism during the Depression and the eve of World War II and the present day.
We hear the voice of the title figure, the muralist Alizee Benoit 1n 1939; she is beautiful, enormously talented and works for the WPA. She lives in a cold water flat in Greenwich Village, and is worried about her Jewish relatives in Europe so soon takes an active part in agitating to allow more visas to be made available. Purely by happenstance she meets Eleanor Roosevelt who tries to help her. Through Alizee we meet her contemporaries - Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and more. Then quite abruptly she disappears apparently without a trace.
In the present day her great-niece Danielle Abrams works for an auction house, Christie’s, and wants to know what happened to Alizee. Perhaps “wants to know” is too gentle an expression as finding out what really happened to her aunt has become tantamount to an obsession. When Danielle discovers paintings hidden on the backs of what might be masterpieces by the likes of Pollock and Rothko, she becomes determined to discover the identity of the artist who created them while hoping it is her aunt. If it is as she wants to believe then perhaps she can also discover what happened to her aunt and who was responsible for her disappearance.
Shapiro has created two fascinating women who take us on an intriguing journey.