Bernard Ewell has thoroughly researched the subject at hand, drawing upon his personal experiences as an expert court witness, appraiser, authenticator, and art sleuth. Artful Dodgers exudes that rare quality in a book of this genre in that it provides detailed analysis, historical context, and useful caveats to would-be art buyers — while also being a damn good read.
The author pulls zero punches. He takes on the bad guys (and gals) without restraint — lifting up the rug on the often untidy art business to expose, and to endeavor to sweep away, some of the dirt that lies therein. And there’s been plenty of it.
Ewell’s writing is lively, clear, witty and compelling. You get a vibe from this man — one that suggests too many shenanigans have gone on in this industry, and Ewell is undaunted as he shines a light on it with courage and conviction.
One of the best features of Artful Dodgers is its “handbook” practicality. By that I mean it’s not just replete with interesting facts and legal cases of fraud and foolishness; it also provides practical tips to help art lovers ensure they truly understand what they’re buying — and what they’re not.
I have to confess: I figured Mr. Ewell’s book would be good. He’s very experienced, very knowledgeable, very smart. But I was not expecting the book to be as comprehensive as it is, while still maintaining a kind of page-turner excitement of a popular novel.
It was a long time in the making, but Artful Dodgers was worth the wait.
Not only is Artful Dodgers highly entertaining, it is a concise and reliable compendium of information essential to art collectors, appraisers and anyone seeking an appraisal. I know whereof I speak since I have been an active art market player for the past 40 years wearing many hats: collector, gallerist, published art critic, exhibition curator, auction house expert, artist, and for the past 17 years a full time independent art appraiser. I can attest that Mr. Ewell tells it like it is. I found myself nodding and chuckling with recognition as I read his accurate portrayals of the pros and cons in the business.
Now I know how Mr. Ewell accomplished the honorable and worthy role of clearing of clearing the air. He is a brilliant raconteur who can back up his observations and stories with living facts and figures.
Well, by golly, the long-awaited book was well worth the wait. I’m only about 100 pages in, and can hardly wait until evening when I can get back to it. All these years as an art appraiser, I know a lot, but Bernard knows a heck of a lot more, and has certainly had (sought out) much more varied experiences than I have. Besides the autographed copy directly from the author (thank you, such kind words…) we’ve ordered another half dozen to hand out to clients and to perhaps the most knowledgeable dealer here, who will find that it reinforces all his beliefs and experience, as it does mine, and that he’ll learn from it as well. Wish I’d had this book 28 years ago!
Great book and presentation. I am proud to be a fellow appraiser. Let us continue to seek the truth.
Nice job on “Artful Dodgers!” Actually read it at one sitting. Looking forward to the next one!