Crimes occur in the museums, art galleries and ateliers, in concert halls and opera houses, on stage and backstage, in authors; studies and libraries. Most art crimes involve forgery or theft, but ambition, jealousy, and revenge can also lead to murder. Are crime among the virtuosi and literati more ingenious, imaginative, and elegant? Is an artist above the law if he commits a crime while creating a masterpiece? Explore these issues in the artful whodunits of Michael Gruber, Barbara Paul, Reginald Hill, John Dunning, and Ellen Pall.
Human nature being what it is, crimes occur in all walks of life and the arts are no exception. Murders happen in museums, art galleries, concert halls, theatres and the opera house. This course deals with crimes involving painting, drama, music, sculpture, literature, and architecture.
The artist has always had special status in society. Dating back to the ancient Greeks who believed poetry was divine, conferred directly by the gods the poet's role was to guide humans through the wisdom and beauty of his words. The ecstatic prophecies of the priests of the oracles were regarded as divine inspiration, and "the poet was identified with the seer," so a tradition of associating poets with madness grew which is still with us today. And not merely poets but all artists, especially painters.
The Renaissance revenge tragedy, inspired by Seneca's tragedy of blood, informs the plot of Barbara Paul's The Fourth Wall, as a series of murders threatens to close a Broadway show. The author produces a tour de force as she observes the conventions of both the Elizabethan drama and the modern whodunit.
Our first book, Michael Gruber's The Forging of Venus, deals with a drug-induced altered state of consciousness which enables a painter not merely to imitate the style of a Velazquez but to imagine and create a previously unknown masterpiece. Questions in the book include whether he has been divinely inspired and whether he should escape prosecution because he has created a work of genius.
One of the most difficult tasks an author can undertake is writing about music –- an abstract art form -- evoking its qualities so that the reader falls under its spell. Reginald Hill not only achieves this minor miracle but manages to employ Mahler’s “Kindertoten Lieder” to develop character and invoke theme in his tale of a drowned town in the Yorkshire dales, On Beulah Height.
The illicit traffic in stolen antiques and their forgery form the basis of the plot in Tasha Alexander's Only to Deceive set in 19th century London and Paris.
John Dunning's Booked to Die takes readers into the twilight world of the secondhand book trade in modern American writers. Not concerned with the actual creation of literature but with the market it generates, this tale depicts the rabid enthusiasm of the book collector and the dealers who pander to this addiction.