Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thomas Hoving - a book worth reading

Thomas Hoving died today, a guy I haven't thought about in a while.  He was director of the Met in NYC for, oh, 15 years or so.  Spent his life, obviously, as an art historian/curator (after 3 post-Princeton years in the Marines, interestingly enough).

Anyway, in the early 90s I read his book called "False Impressions: The Hunt for Big Time Art Forgeries" (or something within a word or two of that title).  Its about his career chasing art fakes around the world, from tiny, dilapitated Italian chapels to the premier auction houses and everything in between.  I think Malcolm Gladwell based a whole chapter of "Blink" on the anecdote that Hoving opens the book with.

Since then down through the years, whenever I get the question, 'what's your favorite book?' (or "what are you reading?" when I'm not, as is often, reading anything), its been a perenial go-to.  He's a curious and quick mind writing on a rich subject that he clearly knows and loves, which is always always always the magic formula for great writing.

here's his obit from the Times today:


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