ARTNews Gives Hughes His Words’ Worth

In their November issue, ARTNews calls LATE AND SOON by Robert J. Hughes “an insightful, entertaining and sometimes scathing portrait of New York’s art-auction world.” The article continues:

His sharply defined cast of characters — some more thinly veiled than others — represents a broad cross section of the auction milieu, from wealthy matrons and their spoiled children to pretentious dealers and suave, unflappable auctioneers.

“Everyone is pretty much made up,” insists Hughes, who covered auctions for the [Wall Street] Journal for a number of years. Still, he admits, “there are a couple of art-world figures you can’t miss, especially if you know them from my perspective.”

The story follows Sotheby’s specialist Claire Brogan, a 32-year-old divorcee with middle-class roots, through the fast-paced and elegant scene of Impressionist art auctions, which Hughes describes as “the tossing about of millions of dollars in a flash of calculated frenzy.”

Mentions of actual artworks, which Hughes gleaned from recent auction catalogues, are sprinkled liberally throughout the novel. At one point, Claire compares herself to the “wizened old woman” in James Tissot’s A Widow (1868). “I like writing about not only the business of art,” says Hughes, “but painting itself.”


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