AN OBJECT OF
NEW YORK BOSTON
Table of Contents
Copyright PageTable of Contents
Front Cover Image
Photo Credits and Copyrights
Also by Steve Martin
CopyrightPHOTO CREDITS AND
by James Tissot. Photo: Snark/Art Resource, NY.
by Maxfield Parrish: Copyright © Maxfield Parrish. Licensed by ASaP Worldwide and VAGA, New York, NY. Photo: Christie’s Images/The Bridgeman Art Library.
by Milton Avery: Copyright © 2010 Milton Avery Trust /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Bethany Rouslin.
Mug, Pipe and Book,
by John Frederick Peto. Photo: SuperStock.
by William Michael Harnett. Photo: SuperStock.
Watson and the Shark,
by John Singleton Copley. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington.
by Willem de Kooning: Copyright © 2010 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Copyright © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY.
Los Angeles County Museum on Fire,
by Ed Ruscha: Copyright © Ed Ruscha. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York.
November in Greenland,
by Rockwell Kent appears courtesy of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York, Rockwell Kent Collection. Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton. Photo: Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia/The Bridgeman Art Library International.
The Bay of Naples by Moonlight,
by Ivan Aivazovsky: Copyright © Anatoly Sapronenkov/SuperStock.
Still Life with Wine Bottles,
by Giorgio Morandi: Copyright © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome. Photo: Gagosian Gallery.
by Andy Warhol: Copyright © 2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation, Inc./Art.
by Tom Friedman. Art and photo are copyright © Tom Friedman. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
by John Singer Sargent: Copyright © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA, USA/The Bridgeman Art Library International.
Woman with Pears,
by Pablo Picasso: Copyright © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Copyright © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY.
by Andy Warhol: Copyright © 2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: The Andy Warhol Foundation, Inc./Art Resource, NY.
Three Parts of an X,
by Robert Gober. Art and photo are copyright © Robert Gober. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
by Wilfredo Lam: Copyright © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: CNAC/MNAM/ Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY.
La Nona Ora,
by Maurizio Cattelan. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
Betwixt the Torus and the Sphere,
by Richard Serra: Copyright © 2010 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Copyright © Richard Serra. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Robert Mckeever.
by Joseph Beuys: Copyright © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Photo: Tate, London/Art Resource, NY.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,
by Dorothea Tanning: Copyright © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP. Photo: Tate, London/Art Resource, NY.
All photos of artwork are used by permission.PART
I AM TIRED, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see it bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else.
My last name is Franks. Once, in college, Lacey grabbed my wallet and read my driver’s license aloud, discovering that my forenames are Daniel Chester French, after the sculptor who created the Abraham Lincoln memorial. I am from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Daniel Chester French lived and worked, and my parents, being parochial Americans, didn’t realize that the name Daniel Chester French Franks read funny. Lacey told me she was related to the arts by blood, too, but declined to tell me the full story, saying, “Too long. Later I’ll tell you, French Fries.” We were twenty.
I left Stockbridge, a town set under the glow of its even more famous citizen, the painter of glad America, Norman Rockwell. It is a town that is comfortable with art, although uncomplicated art, not the kind that is taught in educational institutions after high school. My goal, once I discovered that my artistic aspirations were not accompanied by artistic talent, was to learn to write about art with effortless clarity. This is not as easy as it sounds: whenever I attempted it, I found myself in a convoluted rhetorical tangle from which there was no exit.
After high school, I went south to Davidson College in North Carolina,
while Lacey drove north from Atlanta, and there, Lacey and I studied art history and had sex together exactly once.
Even at the age of twenty, Lacey’s entry into the classroom had the pizzazz of a Broadway star. Our eyes followed her down the aisle, where she would settle into her seat with a practiced hair-flip. When she left a room, there was a moment of deflation while we all returned to normal life. It was apparent to everyone that Lacey was headed somewhere, though her path often left blood in the water.
If one of her girlfriends was in a crisis, Lacey would rush in, offering tidal waves of concern. She could soothe or incite in the name of support: “Honey, get over it,” or, conversely, “Honey, get even.” Either bit of advice was inspiring. The emotions of men, however, were of a different order. They were pesky annoyances, small dust devils at her feet. Her knack for causing heartbreak was innate, but her vitality often made people forgive her romantic misdeeds. Now, however, she is nearing forty and not so easily forgiven as when her skin bloomed like roses.